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The new Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe covers the two civil provinces of Ifugao and the Mountain Province.  It is bounded on the north by Kalinga- Apayao, on the east by Isabela, on the west by Ilocos Sur, and on the south by Nueva Vizcaya.  It is one among three vicariates created on July 6, 1992, dividing the old Vicariate of the Mountain Provinces into three:  the Vicariates of Baguio, Tabuk and Bontoc-Lagawe.

The province of Ifugao is characterized by rolling hills while the Mountain Province is known for its rugged mountains with towering peaks and sharp ridges.  Because of their elevations, some of which exceed 2,000 meters above sea level, these provinces enjoy a cool and envigorating climate, ranging from a low of 66 degrees to a high of 72 degrees in temperature.

The mainstream of the populace belongs to ethno-linguistic groups that have inhabited the central and southwestern parts of the Cordillera region for centuries.  This is made up of the Bontoks, Kankanaeys and the Allay Gaddangs of the Mountain Province, and the Ayangans, Tuwalis and the Kalanguyas of Ifugao.  Although all these groups are classified under the common name of Igorot, each has a distinct culture and a distinct language.  Much of their cultural traditions are still intact.  Basic values such as family and community are still very highly esteemed.

A majority of the people are involved in subsistence agriculture that makes use mostly of terrace planting.  Despite the area's wealth in natural resources the two provinces are economically depressed and remain neglected in basic social services and infrastructure.

Politically Ifugao is comprised of 11 municipalities while the Mountain Province is made up of 10.  The vicariate therefore covers a total of 21 municipalities occupying a land area of 4,615 square kilometers with a population of 272,500 of which 51 per cent are Catholics.

The vicariate reaches out to the faithful through 13 "mission stations" spread out in both provinces.  The area is divided into two ecclesiastical districts, that of Ifugao and that of the Mountain Province.  This provides separate venues for pastoral discussions concerning particular problems or programs affecting the mission stations of each province.  The seat of the apostolic vicariate is at Bondoc, Mountain Province.

Assisting the Vicar Apostolic in the governance of pastoral welfare is the Vicariate Mission Council.  All members of the presbyterium form this council which meets regularly every quarter.  However, it is the  prerogative of the Vicar Apostolic to convene the mission council as the need arises.

On the vicariate level, clergy, religious and lay people, together with the Vicar Apostolic, participate in the planning and formulation of the pastoral direction of the vicariate.  All mission stations are duly represented, Per agreement, the assembly meets once a year for assessment and planning.

The First Vicariate Pastoral Assembly of Bontoc-Lagawe was convened on May 17-20, 1993, out of which emerged the following objectives:  to come together as clergy, religious and laity, to strengthen unity and solidarity; to assess the growth of the vicariate since the 1989 pastoral assembly (of the former Vicariate of the Mountain Provinces); to set the specific pastoral vision, mission, thrust and direction of the newly created vicariate; and from the pastoral end to determine the necessary created vicariate; and from the pastoral end to determine the necessary services and ministries of the vicariate.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe, now on its third year since its creation has, in the first pastoral assembly, determined for itself the pastoral thrust to become a BEC-type church.  Each of the thirteen mission stations has set out to transform communities to become ecclesial communities that are evangelized and evangelizing.  Hence BEC is the main thrust.

 

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