La Union Province belongs to the Ilocos Region in the
northwestern part of the archipelago, now known as Region I, a region known for its towering mountains, thick forest covers, and narrow plains along its coast. The province is
narrow, so narrow at some points that the China Sea, along its western border, often sends sunlit sprays up into its foothills on a clear day.
La Union is bounded on the north by Ilocos Sur, on the east
by the mountains of Benguet, and on the south by Pangasinan. Its name is derived from the union of some southernmost towns of Ilocos Sur with the northernmost
towns of Pangasinan to form a new province. Hence its Spanish name La Union. This new province was formed in 1894. Its capital, San Fernando, was then already in existence, having been founded as early as 1734.
The province enjoys a long dry season, from April to October, protected as it is from typhoons by the eastern mountain ranges on its eastern border. This long summer
accounts for the popularity of its beaches and resorts that line up its western coastline from Bauang to Agoo.
Like the two Ilocos provinces to its north, La Union is mono-ethnic Ilocano. Being Ilocanos
themselves, the inhabitants of this province also possess the sense of frugality and industriousness that is shared by all Ilocanos. The province is
comfortably affluent however, as land is well distributed, and tobacco, the major revenue crop, brought in its share of boom and prosperity a few years back.
The civil province of La Union which comprises the Diocese of San Fernando was the last territory to be separated from the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Nueva
Segovia, with whom it intimately shares its history of the faith.
The Diocese of San Fernando was created on February 9, 1970. The late Most
Reverend Victorino C. Ligot became its first residential bishop. He was succeeded by the Most Reverend Salvador L. Lazo. The diocese now has a total of 20 parishes
in the 20 municipalities of the province which has a total land area of 1,404 square kilometers, and a population of 550,587 of which 85 per cent are from the Catholic
faith. It is suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Its titular patron is St. William the Hermit whose feast the diocese celebrates on February 10 every year.
The new bishop, Most Reverend Antonio R. Tobias, D.D., JCL, who took over the diocese on May 28, 1993, found disunity among the clergy, and made its solution
his primary concern. In time he succeeded in bridging the gaps through monthly clergy meetins. Thus the clergy eventually reached a consensus and produced its
Vision-Mission statement. This was achieved after a major revamp in diocesan assignments within the first year of Bishop Tobias's term.
The religious congregations also got united in an association called the Association of Religious in La Union (ARLU). With the formation of this group the religious
became more supportive of the programs of the diocese and became partners with the diocesan clergy in evangelization work. They too were able to come up with their Vision-Mission statement.
With the clergy and the religious now cooperating in the evangelization work of the diocese, the one other thing left was the bringing of the laity into active participation.
Thus in September of 1994 the heads of the parish pastoral councils, with the diocesan heads of mandated organizations and movements, were summoned to a
meeting by Bishop Tobias. The meeting was called to bring the clergy, the religious and the laity together into a harmonious working relationship.
Activities for 1995 have included the observance of World Sick Day, a choir musical concert, retreats in relation to PCP II decrees, renewals of marriage vows, and the
jubilee celebration of the founding of the diocese in September, 1995.