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Boac was created a diocese in April 1977, separating it from the mother Diocese of Lucena in the province of Quezon.  It comprises the entire civil province of Marinduque, an island province located between the Bondoc Peninsula at the southeastern portion of Luzon, and Mindoro Island.  The province is surrounded by four bodies of water.  Tayabas Bay to the north, Mompog Pass to the northeast, Tablas Strait to the west and southwest, and the Sibuyan Sea to the south.  It is among the smallest provinces in the country, encompassing a land area of about 959 square kilometers.  The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lipa.

Several religious denominations co-exist in Marinduque today, but Roman Catholics represent 95 per cent of the population.  Five per cent are either Protestants, Aglipayans, or members of the Iglesia ni Kristo.

Marinduque is the home of the famous and colorful Moriones Festival which is a re-enactment of Christ's Passion.  Not having evolved a dialect of their own Marinduque inhabitants speak Tagalog, the mother tongue of the neighboring provinces to the north.  About 50 per cent speak English, and 3 per cent Spanish.

Father Felix de Huerta, a Spanish friar, in his book "Historico Religioso Estado Geografico" in 1865 says that the first apostle to Marinduque was Fray Estevan Ortiz, a Franciscan missionary who planted the first cross on the island in 1579, paving the way for the evangelization of the people.  The first visita to be established, in 1580, was that of "Monserrat de Marinduque" (now Boac) with Fray Alonzo Banol as its Minister.  In 1609 two other visitas were established, namely that of San Juan, Marinduque (now Sta. Cruz) and the of San Bernardo de Marinduque (now Gasan), with Fray Pedro de Talavera and Fray Juan Rosado as their first pastors, respectively.  The Franciscans however ceded the administration of the island to the Archbishop of Manila in 1613.

Father Horacio de la Costa, SJ,  in his book "The Jesuits in the Philippines 1581-1768 "states that Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano of Manila entrusted the island of Marinduque to the care of the Society of Jesus in 1612.  The Jesuits stayed and founded the town of Boac on December 8, 1622, and later those of Sta. Cruz and Gasan.

The island of Marinduque belonged to the old Archdiocese of Manila until April 10, 1910 when Pope Pius X created the Diocese of Lipa in Batangas, to which Marinduque was attached as a suffragan.  When the Diocese of Lucena was created on August 20, 1950, Marinduque became part of it until it was created as an independent diocese by virtue of an apostolic bull of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI issued in Rome on April 2, 1977, naming it the Diocese of Boac.

On May 10, 1978, the papal bull was carried into effect in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Boac, in accordance with a document signed by the Most Reverend Bruno Torpigliani, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines at the time.  Bishop Rafael M. Lim, D.D., a native of Boac who was then Bishop of Laoag, was appointed by Pope Paul VI as the first bishop of the new Diocese.  He was solemnly installed on the same day the diocese was canonically erected, May 10, 1978.

Today the Diocese of Boac has the Social Action Commission (SAC) as its main arm for social apostolate, specially to the poor.  It has four programs:  The Basic Christian Communities Community Organizing (BCC-CO) Program started in 1982.  Since then it has formed 110 BCC-CO units comprising 1,918 members.  200 Community Organizing Volunteers have been trained under this program.  There are also 30 full-time Community Organizers who are fielded to different areas of the province covering 218 barangays.  The objective is to build basic Christian communities that are self-reliant in all aspects.

The Livelihood Assistance Program (LAP) began in 1986.  It started with a loaning program to farmers and fishermen for their livelihood projects such as hog and poultry raising, fishing, and farm production.  In 1993 the project evolved into a Multi-Purpose Cooperative.  Thus began savings mobilization work among the BCC members and program beneficiaries.  In January of 1995, the amount loaned out to 123 members reached "P1,900,000, with a high repayment rate of 87 per cent.

The Community-Based Health Program (CBHP) was launched in October 1992 with the purpose of delivering primary health care to the depressed areas.  Part of the program is the training of community-based health workers for the promotion of health care in the basic Christian communities.  The CBHP also promotes herbal medicines, and has in fact ventured into the encapsulation of these medicines.  Two health workers are undergoing a five-month intensive training on acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

The Enhanced Targeted Maternal Child Health Program (ETMCHP) started in 1979, aimed at upgrading the nutritional levels of children aged one to three years.  It also hopes to hone knowledge, skills, and attitudes of mother participants in nutrition, health, and sanitation so that they may become positive contributors to the development of their respective communities.

 

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