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Diocese of Tarlac

 

The Diocese of Tarlac comprises the whole province of Tarlac. Before its creation on February 16, 1963, the province belonged to two different dioceses. Its capital town of Tarlac and the southern towns belonged to the then Diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, and the northern towns to the Diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Today it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Pampanga. It is the melting pot where Kapampangans, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, Tagalogs, and the Aetas live together in harmony and peace.

The province of Tarlac is right in the heartland of Central Luzon which comprises Region III. This location between Manila and the northern provinces has made it the important trading center that it is today. Tarlac is landlocked by Pangasinan on the north, Nueva Ecija on the east, Pampanga on the south, and Zambales on the west.

Originally Tarlac was part of the provinces of Pampanga and Pangasinan. It was organized as a province of its own close to the end of the Spanish regime. With its neighboring provinces in Central Luzon, Tarlac was among the first to rise up in arms against Spain in 1898. When Malolos was abandoned as the second seat of the First Philippine Republic as the Americans overran the country, Tarlac, Tarlac became the new seat of the new government for a few months.

From more recent times, in World War II, the town of Capas in Tarlac is remembered as hallowed ground where the infamous "Death March" ended at Camp O'Donnell, after the Filipino-American forces surrendered in Bataan. The prisoners were made to walk the entire distance from Bataan to Capas, with hardly any food, half of them dying along the road. In the fifties and the sixties, Tarlac was again the seat of more rebellion, this time by the Hukbalahaps during the term of President Ramon Magsaysay.

The province has recently been devastated by two natural calamities: the killer quake of 1990 and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales in 1991. The first exacted a toll on lives and property. The second was worse the destructive flow of lahar continues up to the present to disrupt the lives of thousands who have had to flee homes and whole towns that now that now lie buried in lahar. The church in Tarlac is very much involved in the alleviation of the effects of these tragedies.

In spite of all those odds the diocese of Tarlac struggles to accomplish its mission. A college seminary has been established to address the perennial shortage of priests and religious. A formation house has also been opened.

The entire diocese is being renewed and evangelized in accordance with the spirit of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Large parishes are being divided into manageable sizes. Parish pastoral councils are undergoing revitalization along the lines of renewed evangelization. And the laity is gradually being introduced to new methods and concepts.

The Diocese of Tarlac has St. Sebastian for its titular patron. Its jurisdiction covers a population of 859,651, of which 83 per cent are Catholics.

The Diocese has 31 parishes under 5 vicariates, and counts 321 chapels and visitas within the province, attended to by 74 priests. Among its Catholic institutions are a seminary, a formation house, 2 colleges, 9 high schools, and 8 elementary schools.

 

 

Most Rev. Florentino F. Cinense, D.D., PhD, STL
Ordained priest: December 21, 1963
Ordained bishop: July 14, 1984
Appointed Bishop of Tarlac: January 21, 1988

 

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