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Diocese of Surigao


The Diocese of Surigao was established on June 3, 1939, comprising the then entire civil province of Surigao. In 1960 the province of Surigao was divided into two: Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. On June 6, 1978 the Diocese of Tandag was established in Surigao del Sur. The Diocese of Surigao today covers the entire civil province of Surigao del Norte, while the Diocese of Tandag covers the civil province of Surigao del Sur. Both dioceses are suffragans of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

Surigao del Norte is at the northernmost tip of the island of Mindanao and includes several offshore islands, among them Dinagat and Siargao. Surigao City is the capital of the province, situated on its northern tip. Alongside the province is the Philippine Deep, one of the deepest of ocean depths in the world, measuring 10,790 meters. This geological configuration makes the province of Surigao del Norte prone to tectonic tremors.

Spanish expeditions to subjugate the province many times failed because of stiff resistance by the natives. One of these expeditions was led by the explorer Ruy Lope de Villalobos. Subsequent expeditions finally secured the territory for Spain. The coming of the Americans brought stability which speeded up growth of the settlements. Migrants from the Visayas began to pour in, the main reason why a majority of the residents today are of Visayan origin and speak the Cebuano dialect. The current population of the province is 425,978 of which 75 per cent are Catholics.

The Diocese of Surigao is headed by His Most Reverend Miguel C. Cinches, SVD, D.D., PhD, assisted by 52 diocesan and religious priests over a total of 26 parishes. There are 40 religious sisters in the diocese who help supervise 13 Catholic schools and 3 charity clinics. There are 9 pastoral centers, 14 religious organizations, and 432 Basic Ecclesial Communities in the province.

On October 11-16 and again on November 15-20, the First Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Surigao took place at the Pope John XXIII Diocesan Pastoral Center in Surigao City in 1993. The meeting of October tackled the first phase, while that of November looked into the second phase. The Decree of Promulgation was formalized by Most Reverend Miguel Cinches, Bishop of Surigao on June 21, 1994.

Emerging from this Synod, the vision statement proclaims that the faithful of the Diocese of Surigao, as followers of Christ, "aim to make the Church a living witness of God's loving presence by becoming a serving, evangelizing and worshipping community."

And the attendant mission to this vision is for the faithful to become a community of disciples working in the vineyard of the Father, who resolve to "build and strengthen Basic Ecclesial Communities; revitalize Christian values in the family; promote intensive re-evangelization through witnessing of all who belong to the diocese; involve actively the lay faithful in all Church activities in partnership with Clergy and Religious; support and intensify the promotion of priestly and religious vocations; and act appropriately and decisively on the religious, political and socio-economic issues."

Basic in the decrees is the setting up of a diocesan pastoral staff to oversee the activities of the different apostolates, the setting up of advisory bodies to help the bishop as pastor of the diocese, the emphasis on witnessing as the most important element in living the faith, and the introduction of tithing to help support the "church of the poor."

And most basic too among the work of the diocesan apostolates is the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC's) to become the over-all basic structure that will program the different apostolates through all the parishes.



Most Rev. Antonieto D. Cabajog, D.D.
Ordained priest: April 9, 1981
Ordained bishop: March 16, 1999
Appointed Bishop of Surigao:  2001


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