The Diocese of Dipolog was created on Jul 3, 1967, carved out of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga by virtue of the Apostolic Letter
"Quantom Prosit" of Pope Paul VI.
The territorial jurisdiction of the diocese covers the civil province of Zamboanga del Norte, including the cities of Dipolog and Dapitan, a land area of 7,205 square
kilometers. This province occupies the western border of Mindanao Island facing the Sulu Sea. Originally the diocese was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. When the Diocese of Ozamiz was
elevated to an archdiocese in 1983, it took the Diocese of Dipolog as one of its suffragans. The principal patroness of the diocese is Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, with St. Vincent Ferrer as its secondary
The Most Reverend Felix Zafra, D.D. was appointed First Bishop of Dipolog. He took canonical possession of the diocese on October 2, 1967. On May 27, 1987, twenty years later, the Most Reverend
Jose R. Manguiran, D.D. became the Second Bishop of Dipolog, and remains the bishop of the diocese as of this writing in 1995.
Zamboanga del Norte is separated from Zamboanga del Sur by the Zamboanga Cordilleras which
run down the entire peninsula that comprises the Zamboangas. Zamboanga del Norte has been a land of migrants even before the Spaniards came. Legaspi is know to have explored the area in the sixteenth
century, and reported that Dapitan was inhabited by people from Bohol. The town of Dapitan was made into a Jesuit settlement in the early days of the Spanish era.
Today the population of the province totals
714,673, out of which 76 per cent are Catholics. The remaining 24 per cent comprise Moslems, Protestants, other religious denominations, and indigenous tribes who do not have any religious affiliations.
Diocese of Dipolog has 30 parishes and 4 quasi-parishes, administered mostly by diocesan priests. Only three mission centers are administered by religious fathers.
Since 1980 the Diocese of Dipolog has
maintained a unified pastoral thrust. In that year a diocesan vision was formulated: "To possess life in its fullness (John 10:10)." Guided by that vision, mission objectives were formulated
which called for, among other things, a review of objectives every three years. This review is followed by pastoral planning strategies and programs that are meant to turn the objectives into realities.
1989 to 1994, three diocesan planning workshops were held, each formulating programs and strategies for a two-year period. Thus for the period 1990 to 1992, the unified diocesan thrust was the building of Basic
Ecclesial Communities (BEC's_; from 1992 to 1994 the organization of "Arkas", meaning Arch-BEC's or zone BEC's for greater effectiveness in coordination; and from 1994 to 1996 the setting up of a pastoral
renewal and integration program to coincide with the plans and decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines.
The bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ozamiz meet quarterly to design and plan a unified
pastoral thrust for the entire ecclesiastical province. The bishops of Mindanao also meet every three years in the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference, participated in by bishops, religious and laity, to discuss
pastoral awareness and define a unified pastoral stance. The Bishop of Dipolog takes an active part in these conferences, and collaborates with the other bishops on pastoral concerns.
Throughout the diocese
there are activities involving the laity. Members of the laity are organizing themselves into Basic Ecclesial Communities of eight to ten families each. This ensures not only a con constant dialogue between
laity and hierarchy, but a collaboration of both groups in the church's pastoral and apostolic undertakings. It also encourages the faithful to fully participate in the life of the church in the context of a
larger community. Inspired by the acts and decrees of PCP II, the Basic Ecclesial Community has become "the new way of being church" in the Diocese of Dipolog. There are today 3,739 BEC's already
organized in the diocese.
From 1990 up to the present (1995), the diocese has called for two Diocesan Pastoral Conferences and two Facilitators' Training Workshops/Seminars. On September 3 to 6, 1990 the diocese
called for its third Diocesan Pastoral Conference, attended by delegates from different sectors and parishes of the diocese. These included parish priests, religious, and the laity. The formation of BEC's
was discussed here as the pastoral thrust that would encourage each community not only to develop its spiritual life but also its social, economic, cultural and political dimensions. This pastoral thrust came to
be called by its acronym SPECSE, which stands for the words spiritual, political, economic, cultural, social, economic awareness and concern.
On September 6 to 20 in 1991, the diocese conducted its Discernment
Facilitators Training as a preparation for the implementation of the decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. This workshop was aimed at the development of a program for facilitator-trainors who,
in turn, could train BEC leaders in the discernment of the Word of God.
On August 20 to 22, 1993, a Diocesan Facilitators' Training Seminar for Tithing was organized. The focus here was the objective to
eventually abolish the Arancel System as a means of support for the church's ministry and clergy, and to introduce the Monthly Pledging System instead. As of this writing, half of the parishes in Dipolog are now
implementing the tithing or pledging system. It is hoped by the church in Dipolog that by the end of 1995 all parishes shall have implemented this system.
On May 22 to 27, 1994, the Fourth Diocesan Pastoral
Conference of the Diocese of Dipolog was held. It was attended by 170 delegates – priests, religious and laity, to discuss pastoral renewal and integration. This conference was called for to design a
pastoral-implementation plan of the decrees of PCP II in the light of the local situation in Dipolog.
During this conference the delegates restructured the diocesan pastoral structures to make them workable from the
diocesan levels tot he parochial levels, then to the BEC levels.