From 1595 to 1910, the area which now comprises the Diocese of Maasin belonged to the diocese of Cebu. From 1910 to
1937 it belonged to the Diocese of Calbayog. From 1937 to 1968 it came under the jurisdiction of the Diocesan of Palo in Leyte. Today it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
The diocese comprises the
entire province of Southern Leyte, and the towns of Matalon, Bato, Hilongos, Hindang, Inopacan and Baybay in the province of Leyte, with the Maasin Parish Cathedral as the seat of the diocese. Distributed within
its 2,505 square kilometers of land are 38 parishes and 1 quasi-parish. To facilitate administration these parishes have been grouped under 6 vicariates.
The province of Southern Leyte is located in
the southeastern portion of the island of Leyte. And the small island of Limasawa off its southern coast is historically significant as the place where Magellan landed, after having sailed from the island of
Homonhon in Samar, to celebrate the first Catholic mass in the Philippines. The chieftain of Limasawa, Kolambu and his men, with Magellan and his men, attended that first mass celebrated by Father Pedro
Valderrama. Until 1960, the island of Limasawa belonged to the island province of Leyte.
Leyte and Samar were once considered one single political unit by the Spanish government, falling under the administration
of the government of Cebu. They were separated from Cebu in 1735 but still remained as a single province until 1768, when they were finally split into two provinces, with Tacloban as the capital of the entire
island province of Leyte. In 1960 Southern Leyte was made a separate province with Maasin as its capital.
The population of Southern Leyte is made up mostly of Cebuano-speaking people because of its closeness,
geographically, to Cebu and Bohol. This population has now reached a total of 558,804, of which 90 per cent are Catholics.
In recent years, awareness of their potent role in the local church has been perceived
among the lay faithful – a result of diocesan programs designed to awaken the "sleeping giant" in the church. There has been a marked increase in the number of lay ministers to assist priests in every
parish, as there has been in the number of volunteer catechists.
The Diocese of Maasin today has started to focus on the vision of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Apart from the usual
ministerial and sacramental functions, the clergy has succeeded to penetrate the people's conscience with concern for other issues, such as reforestation, among others.
The Social Action Center has
generously offered help in livelihood projects to those who do not have the necessary capital. This has been successful in the abaca business enterprise. The Center is now in the process of opening up more
opportunities for more livelihood for more livelihood projects.
The Commission on Youth is helping in the formation of the youth in all the parishes of the diocese through youth encounters and leadership training. It
has organized three diocesan summer youth camps between 1993 and 1995, attended by more than a thousand delegates.
In 1993 the Diocese of Maasin marked its 25th aniversary as a diocese. The theme of the
celebration set the direction which the diocese will follow in the next decade: "RENEWAL: the challenge of the faithful in the Diocese of Maasin."
Thus the vision that was planted and took root
when Father Pedro Valderrama celebrated the first mass in the Philippines on March 21, 1521, has borne new fruit. Aside from the prospects of renewal for the entire diocese, the Chaplaincy of Limasawa was raised
to that of a parish – the Holy Cross and First Mass of Limasawa Parish, on March 29, 1994, more than four centuries later.