The Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga comprises the entire civil province of Pampanga and includes the Dioceses of lba (Zambales), Udac (Tarlac) and Balanga (Bataan) within its metropolitan province as suffragans. It was created a diocese on December 11, 1948, and was elevated to an archdiocese on March 17, 1975. Its titular patron is St. Ferdinand, King, and its secondary patron is Our Lady of the Assumption.

The province of Pampanga has a land area of 2,180 square kilometers, and is bounded on the west by Zambales, northwest by Tarlac, northeast by Nueva Ecija, east by Bulacan and south by Manila Bay. It is one Of 7 provinces that compose the so-called Central Plain of Luzon.

The civil province of Pampanga once included the provinces of Zambales and Bataan. The inhabitants at first resisted Spanish forces when these came in the 16th century. They were however subdued later by the Spaniard Martin de Goiti, after whom a famous plaza in ManiI6 is named. But the province continued to be a hotbed of rebel- lion during the Spanish era, and more recently an area of social unrest with the Hukbalahap movement of the 1950's and the 1960's.

The Augustinian Missionaries were the first to settle in Lubao, a town in Pampanga, in 1571., From there they established mission centers in Candaba, Macabebe, Bacolor, Arayat, Mexico, Guagua and other towns.

When the diocese was created in 1948, the Most Reverend Cesar Ma. Guerrero was appointed its first bishop. The then diocese comprised the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, a part of Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija. It was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Manila.

Eventually the diocese was dismembered when provincial boundaries became more clearly defined. Zambales was established as a prelature on October 18, 1955, Nueva Ecija as a diocese on February 16, 1963, Tarlac as another diocese on May 10, 1963, and Bataan as yet another diocese on March 17, 1975.

On March 17, 1975 the Diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga was elevated to an archdiocese comprising the entire province of Pampanga. The Most Reverend Emilio Cinense was its first archbishop. He was succeeded in 1978 by the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz. On March 14, 1989, the Most Reverend Paciano D. Aniceto became the Third Archbishop of San Fernando, in succession to Archbishop Oscar V, Cruz.

Pampanga has 1,383,981 inhabitants out of which 96 per cent are Catholics. The people are religious by nature, having long been evangelized by the missionaries.  The people respect and love their priests, and their generosity is manifested by their support of any church undertaking. The literacy rate of the province is comparatively high. And some people have shone prominently from this province in the arts, sciences, politics and in the clergy.

Being an agricultural province, Pampanga has average-income earners as a whole.  Economically it is stable; sugarcane fields in this province are extensive and fish production along its swamps and rivers sufficient. Another enterprise that was thriving in the province was the sale of American goods coming from the American airforce base in Angeles City.

Recent years, however, have wrought havoc in Pampanga. The withdrawal of the American airforce base from Clark Field in Angeles City has greatly affected the economic stability of many people. But the biggest tragedy that has struck Pampanga was the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, dormant for the last 500 years, venting its fury of destructive Lahar on the towns of Pampanga that lay in its path. The lahar still flows down unavoidably during the rainy season, rampaging info towns anew, changing the topography of the land and rendering thousands of families homeless for good. Wholesale resettlement of families is now an almost insurmountable problem for government and church agencies.

The archdiocese has assigned parish priests to work full-time in specific resettlement areas, aside from full-time social workers. These are personnel from the Social Action Center of Pampanga (SACOP). With its physical limits, the archdiocese continues to pursue its other pastoral activities involving the family life apostolate, catechelical instruction, missionary activities, Catholic education, mass communications apostolate, matrimonial tribunal ministry among others.

Incumbent Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto has commenced the preparatory stage of tile Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly, which will work out an Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan with participation from grassroots levels. Work is being done this year on its consultative phase, in preparation for its convocation in 1996.

There are 13F, diocesan and 17 religious priests working in the Arch- diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, covering a total of 75 parishes. Catholic institutions and pastoral centers include 3 universities, -5 colleges, 14 secondary schools, 3 elementary schools and I social action center. Faith communities and other organizations come up to 17.

 

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