Get a glimpse of centuries of cultivating Christianity throughout generations in Oriental Mindoro-how faith and devotion led to the growing commitment of the community to serve God and the society.

“From Evangelized to Evangelizing Local Church”

by Fr. Vicente R. Uy, JCD

1572: Seed of Faith Planted  

The seed of the Christian faith in Mindoro Island, originally known to the ancients as Ma-I and to the Spaniards as Mina de Oro, was planted by religious missionaries whose dedication and perseverance despite all adversities bore fruit in the hearts and minds of the natives.  The first among these missionaries were the Augustinians (Calzados) who arrived on the northern part of the island of Mindoro in 1572 and established a mission center in Minolo, Puerto Galera.  For three years, they preached Christianity from here.  In 1575, they shifted their center to old Baco and founded the town and the parish.  In 1578, the Order of Franciscan Missionaries (OFM) came and they also established mission centers and founded the parish in Naujan.  After they left, the pastoral care of the baptized was left on the hands of the Spanish secular priests stationed in the island.  Missionary activities were revived and eventually flourished when Mindoro became part of the Archdiocese of Manila in 1595.

1627:   Missionary Works Flourished

The year 1627 marked the entry of the Jesuits who started the mission to the Mangyans and were very effective in their preaching and catechetical instructions.  Due chiefly to the initiative of Friar Diego dela Madre de Dios, the new parish and town of Calapan was founded in 1679 by the Augustinian Recoletos.  The Augustinians’ friary was transferred from Baco to Calapan in 1733 mainly on account of the depredation of Muslim Sea warriors who preyed on and plundered the Christian coastal settlements in Luzon and Visayas.  From here on, the Augustinian Friary in Calapan had ecclesiastical juris­diction over the whole of Mindoro. 

1871: Calapan Parish Evolved

One of the important milestones in the history of Mindoro Christianity during this period was the establishment of key towns and parishes throughout the island.  Calapan evolved to be the capital of the island of Mindoro.  In fact, once there was a saint who stepped, lived and served the island of Mindoro – then Padre now Saint Ecequiel Moreno y Diaz – who celebrated his first Mass in Calapan on 6 June 1871 and stayed in Calapan as Assistant Parish Priest for less than a year.  He received another appointment for Calapan in 1873 as temporary Parish Priest and the Recollect Prior assigned him as Vicar Forane of Mindoro in 1896.

1871: Calapan Parish Evolved

The subsequent years after 1896 were turbulent periods for the people of Mindoro, largely Christian then.  The struggle for nationhood, first against Spaniards and then against the Americans, left the island province in great disarray.  With the defeat of the Filipinos in the war with the Americans (1899-1901), American rule came to Mindoro.  In the mean­time, the Christians were left to fend for themselves to a great extent in their life related to religion.   There was more stability for the Christian missions after 10 April 1910 when the mission area of Mindoro became part of the Diocese of Lipa and it was finally entrusted to the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD).   

1936: Apostolic Prefecture Erected

On 2 July 1936, with territory taken from the Diocese of Lipa and Diocese of Jaro, Mindoro was erected to Apostolic Prefecture by virtue of a declaration con­tained in the Apostolic Letter, Ad Catholicum Nomen. The Most Reverend William Finnemann, S.V.D., D.D. was appointed first Apostolic Prefect on 4 December 1936.   He was martyred on October 26, 1942 for refusing to convert the convent of the sisters into a prostitution house.  The Japanese soldiers bound his hands and feet, tied his body on a huge rock and dropped him overboard into the depths of the sea near Verde Island.  He is currently in consideration for sainthood with Protocol Number 2290 assigned by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which, on 7 December 1999, he was declared Servant of God.  On June 21, 1946, Most Reverend Enrique (Henry) Ederle, S.V.D., D.D. was appointed second Apostolic Prefect until his resignation on 12 July 1951.

1951: Apostolic Vicariate Established

On 12 July 1951, Pope Pius XII, through the papal bull Merit ab Apostolic, the Apostolic Prefecture was elevated to an Apostolic Vicariate.   The Most Reverend Wilhem Josef Duschak, S.V.D., D.D. was appointed first Apostolic Vicar.  A year before, in 1950, the province of Mindoro was divided into two civil provinces Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro by virtue of Republic Act No. 505.  From here on, given the pastoral zeal of German SVD missionaries, the local church of Mindoro has made great strides towards advancement of evangelization.  This is reflected in the increase of baptized members, the erection of new parishes, the construction of churches and convents, the establishment of parochial schools, and the acquisition of temporal goods for the church, among others.  Considered as landmarks of his episcopacy was the establishment of St. Augustine Minor Seminary (SAS) at Calapan City and St. Augustine Major Seminary (SASMA) at Tagaytay City, in 1962 and 1969, respectively, to commence the SVD’s mission thrust towards the formation of diocesan clergy.  From 1974 to date, in the span of 47 years, it is evident that hundreds of fruits are reaped as there are around 80 diocesan priests have been ordained, and still counting.  Moreover, the SVD missionaries put premium on formal education, catechetical instruction, and Mangyan mission and, to advance these apostolic works, women religious belonging to Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS) and Order of St. Benedict (OSB) have joined the mission.

1951: Apostolic Vicariate Established

On 26 November 1973, Most Rev. Simeon O. Valerio, S.V.D., D.D. was appointed second Apostolic Vicar.  Portion of its territory was lost to the creation of the Diocese of Romblon on 19 December 1974.  The year 1977 was a landmark event for Mindoro when the First Diocesan Planning was convoked on 10-16 February 1977 and re-convoked on 16-22 February 1982, under the auspices of Fr. Wilfredo B. Villas.  The Vision-Mission-Goal was formulated, adopted, and owned.  The two important thrusts of the pastoral life and ministry were identified – Catechesis and Basic Chris­tian Communities (BCCs).   The two pillars of pastoral agenda were defined – Formation and Service.  The Cursillo and Charismatic Move­ments were introduced in the parishes which created a great impact in the renewal of the faithful and the enlivening of communities.  The Holy Year (1983), Marian Year (1985), and the Golden Jubilee (1986) were some of the highlighted great ecclesiastical events.  On 26 September1988, Bishop Valerio resigned.

1983: Two Apostolic Vicariates Created

On 27 January 1983, portion of the Vicariate’s territory was lost to the creation of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose which was erected by Pope John Paul II on 27 January 1983.  Hence, Mindoro Island was divided into two particular Churches, namely: Vicariatus Apostolicus Calapanensis and Vicariatus Apostolicus Sancti Jusephi comprising the civil province of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, respectively.  In the latter, the Most Reverend Vicente C. Manuel, S.V.D. was appointed as the first Apostolic Vicar and resigned on 14 October 2000.  He was succeeded by the Most Reverend Antonio Palang, S.V.D. on 25 March 2002 and resigned on  17 March 2018.  The Most Reverend David William. V Antonio was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator on 21 November 2015 until to date.

1989: First Diocesan Bishop Appointed

On 23 June 1989, a new era in the life of the Vicariate began with the installa­tion of its first diocesan bishop and third Apostolic Vicar, the Most Reverend Warlito I. Cajandig, D.D., a native of Dumarao, Capiz.  His episcopacy is marked with a steadfast drive towards renewed integral evangelization with special thrust on “Basic Ecclesial Communities-Community Organizing” (BEC-CO)”.   Among the concrete pas­toral initiatives that were implemented in support of this thrust are the following: (1) the division of the Apostolic Vicariate into five (5) Vicariates Forane (expanded to 10 in 2018) towards decentralization and devolution for broader participation among the religious and lay faithful; (2) the institutionalization of the BEC-CO Program spearheaded by women religious sis­ters and lay faithful; (3) the establishment of Formation Founda­tion Funds for self-sufficiency program; (4) the convocation of Participatory Action Research (PAR) to implement the Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II); and, (4) the 5-year pastoral program leading to the threshold of the new millennium .

1997: Vision-Mission-Goal Redefined

In 1997, Bishop Cajandig convoked the Third Dioc­esan Pastoral Planning in 1997 with the end in view of revising and redefining the Vision-Mission-Goal, as follows:

 Vision:       A dynamic community of disciples of Christ, living the Word of God in unity and is ruled by justice, freedom, peace, and love.


Mission:     We commit to following the will of the Father rooted in Christ, to journey under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to answering the call of the Church and society for renewal towards the realization of the Kingdom of God.

Goal:          To make an integral evangelization towards the building-up of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

2001: Dekada ng Pamilyang Mindoreňo (DPM) Instituted

The three-year preparations focused on the Trinity and the eventual meaningful cel­ebration of the Great Jubilee 2000 also enlivened the local church of Calapan and provided the impe­tus for a committed effort to heed the Pope John Paul II’s call for “Integral Evangelization”.  This was pursued through the institution of the pastoral program dubbed as “Dekada ng Pamilyang Mindoreno” (DPM), to be reckoned from 2001 to 2010.  Spearheaded by Fr. Andy Peter M. Lubi, the program focused on the evangelization of families towards the building-up of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

2005: Administrative Manual Promulgated

In September 2002, premised on the doctrine that every organization needs a structure in order to operate systematically, effectively and efficiently toward achieving its Vision-Mission-Goal (VMG), Bishop Cajandig convoked the Episcopal Council in a special meeting to revisit and redesign the Administrative Section of the Vicariate in accordance with Canon Law.  Spearheaded by Fr. Vicente R. Uy, J.C.D., the “Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan Administrative Manual” (AVCAM) was officially presented and solemnly promulgated in the First Diocesan Administrative Assembly held on 5-6 September 2005.  Said Manual serves as the Vademecum, a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation towards right actions and right order, both in individual and social life of the local Church.  It serves as the fundamental legislative document which contains the compendium of preceptive policies and norms, rules and regulations, relative to administrative, pastoral and judicial governance. 

2006: Hapag ng Pamilyang Mindoreňo (HPM) Institutionalized

In September 2004, the Diocesan Pastoral Council Meeting was convoked to evaluate and re-design a suitable, effective, and systematic pastoral program based on the Vision-Mission-Goal of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan without prejudice to the present demands of the local Church.  Attendant to the collective spirit and common resolve on the imperative for one and unified pastoral agenda towards renewed and integral evangelization rooted in the Word of God and the Eucharist, the Diocesan Core Program Hapag ng Pamilyang Mindoreño (HPM) was conceived and it was officially promulgated for implementation on 15 July 2006.  HPM recognizes the family as the focus and locus of the evangelization, with special reference to evangelizing Mindoreño families.  “Hapag” (Table) is the main component with three (3) constitutive components, namely: (1) “Hapag ng Salita ng Diyos” (Centrality of the Word); (2) “Hapag ng Eukaristiya” (Centrality of the Eucharist); and, (3) “Hapag-Kainan” (Centrality of Charity).  HPM is also geared towards the stable establishment of Basic Ecclesial Communities (Munting Kapitbahayang Kristiyano or MKK), beginning at home, the domestic Church.   This year 2021, HPM turns 15 years of age and it remains the stimulus of the pastoral program of the local Church.   

2011: PCP II at 20 Recreated

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of PCP II, using its catchphrase – “the need for the Church for the poor is greater than the need of the poor for the Church” – the Vicariate picked-up where PCP II has left-off in so far as the Vision-Mission Statement of the Church in the Philippines – “Church of the Poor”.   Bishop Cajandig cascaded his personal commitment towards being and becoming the Church of the Poor, anchored on embracing evangelical poverty and empowering the poor for the transformation of society.  Priority programs were created for the conscientization, evangelization and organization of the marginalized poor towards the justice and love of God in the world, first, into small communities of faith and discernment, second, into sectoral groups to attend to specific needs in cultural, political, economic and religious institutions.   This is empowerment of the poor for active participation and leadership in the Church’s life and mission.  Community organizing of people’s organization find their place here, rooted in prayerful discernment and permeated with the spirit of love and reconciliation.  Moreover, among the Bishop’s PCP-II-based-advocacies were good governance and lay empowerment.

2013: New Evangelization Towards 500YOC Launched

Attendant to the CBCP’s nine-year program for the renewal of Philippine Church in preparation for the 500YC in 2021, the local Church renewal became an ongoing imperative.  The Vicariate made its own localized HPM-based spiritual journey of renewal and deepened faith through a series of “novena years” following the designated themes, both in its interior life (ad intra) and exterior life (ad extra).  Among the nine themes, Bishop Cajandig focused on the renewal of the clergy and priests, cognizant of his personal belief that the desired renewal of the local Church depends to a great extent on the life and ministry of its local priests.  An emphatic assertion is made to the critical importance of on-going formation of priests and renewed priestly formation of seminarians.  Attendant to the epochal changes and new challenges to the Church’s evangelizing mission, referencing to Pope Francis’ “evangelization of the geographical and existential peripheries”, Bishop Cajandig has pursued the division of long-standing stable territorial parishes (20), in fact doubling their numbers, with the erection of quasi-parishes (2), chaplaincies (7) and what he called Mission Areas (10), towards his thrust of reaching all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel of Joy.

2018: Apostolic Administrator Appointed

In September 2018, as Bishop Cajandig went into coma following a severe stroke, the Vicariate was declared under sede impedita.  Pope Francis promptly appointed Very Reverend Father Nestor J. Adalia as Apostolic Administrator sede impedita et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis on 13 November 2018.   On 31 January 2019, the Vicariate was deemed under sede vacante as Bishop Cajandig turned the retirement age of 75 after nearly three decades as Apostolic Vicar of Calapan.  The Apostolic Administrator (AA) piloted the Vicariate while keeping afloat in its spiritual pilgrimage towards 500YOC in 2021.  The HPM, in its core components as Formation (Hapag ng Salita and Hapag ng Eukaristiya) and Service (Hapag-Kainan), was given new vigor, new methods, and new expressions in the “virtual” manner due to COVIC-19 pandemic.  These two pastoral pillars around which all pastoral agenda are organized, served as the source and summit of making the Vicariate up-and-ready for the challenge of doing missionary evangelization in concrete, with special reference to the strengthening of the Mangyan Mission apostolate of the local Church.  Inspired by the words of then Bishop Duschak, SVD, that, “every diocesan priest of Mindoro should be a missionary to the Mangyans”, the AA boldly challenged the diocesan and religious clergy to be committed to the mission of renewed integral evangelization for the Mangyans, a sort of retribution to the original native settlers of Mindoro called Manguianes by the Spaniards.  Accordingly, in the spirit of episcopalis communio with the Holy Father, in addressing the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the AA promulgated three landmark instruments for the clergy: (1) Code of Conduct for the Clergy of Calapan; (2) Safeguarding Code for the Prevention of Clergy Sexual Misconduct Against Minors or Vulnerable Persons or Consenting Adults; and (3) Protocols for Reporting Information and/or Lodging Complaint Against Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors or Vulnerable Persons and/or Some Other Sexual Misconduct. 

2021: 500YOC Reignited

500YOC in Calapan kicked-off on Easter Sunday, 4 April 2021.  The event began with the opening of the Cathedral’s Jubilee Door to mark the ceremonial launching of the 500 YOC, presided by the Apostolic Administrator, with some ten (10) other heritage churches also simultaneously opened their Jubilee Doors.  These pilgrim Churches become the “centers of prayer, forgiveness, and charitable works” throughout the Jubilee Year and they will be sealed on 18 April 2022 to coincide with the 2nd National Mission Congress in Cebu.  Massive information and formation about the passing through the Holy Doors to obtain plenary indulgence, that is, the complete remission of all temporal punishments due to sins, becomes the ongoing imperative among the Christ’s faithful, with special reference to the peripheral Catholics.  In unity with the Year of Mission theme – “Gifted to Give”, the AA focuses on revisiting and reigniting the ardent zeal for the locally adopted missio ad gentes to the local indigenous people, the Mangyans, with the firm belief that missio ad intra precedes missio ad extra.  This thrust serves as a concrete “gift to be given” by the Vicariate in the Year of Mission to culminate the 500YOC celebration.

2021: Prefecture at 85 and Vicariate at 70 Celebrated

Year 2021 is deemed Jubilee Year for the local Church of Calapan as this year marks its 85 years as Apostolic Prefecture (F-1936) and 75 years as Apostolic Vicariate (F-1951) which graciously coincides with 500YOC.   Through 85 years, the local Church of Calapan has grown by leaps and bounds and soaring to greater heights with God – from being “missioned and evangelized” to becoming “missioning” and “evangelizing”, from “evangelized” to “evangelizing” local Church – “Gifted to Give” indeed!