DIOCESE OF BOAC, MARINDUQUE
“DUC IN ALTUM ECCLESIA PAUPERUM IN IUSTITIA, IN CARITATE ET IN PACE”
Created suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lipa, separating from the Mother Diocese of Lucena on 2 April 1977, the Diocese of Boac comprises the whole civil province of Marinduque. It has a total area of 959.2 sq. kms. In his book, “Historico Religioso Estado Geografico,” 1865, Fr. Felix de Huerta says that the first apostle to Marinduque was the Franciscan Missionary Fray Estevan Cruz, who planted the first cross in 1579 that paved the way for the evangelization of the people. The first “visita” was established in 1580 and it was called “Monserrat de Marinduque” (now Boac) with Fray Alonzo Banol as its minister. In 1609 two other “visitas” were instituted, “San Juan de Marinduque” (now Sta. Cruz) and San Bernardo de Marinduque (now Gasan) with Fray Pedro de Talavera and Fray Juan Rosado as their first pastors, respectively. Later on, the Franciscans ceded the administration of the island to the Archbishop of Manila in 1613.
“The Jesuits in the Philippines 1581-1768,” a book written by Fr. Horacio de la Costa, states that Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano of Manila entrusted the island of Marinduque to the care of the Society of Jesus in 1621. The Jesuits stayed in the province and founded the town of Boac on 8 December 1622 and later on the towns of Sta. Cruz and Gasan. By virtue of a Spanish Royal Decree dated 19 May 1864, the Augusti-
nian Recollect Fathers took over the spiritual administration of Boac in exchanged for the Curacies they left behind to the hands of the Jesuit missionaries in Mindanao.
Before the creation of the Diocese of Lipa by St. Pius X, the island of Marinduque, since 14 August 1595 till 10 April 1910, belonged to Archdiocese of Manila. When the Diocese of Lucena was created on 20 August 1950, Marinduque became a part of her. In 2 April 1977, by virtue of the Apostolic Bull “Cum Tempore Maturare” issued by Pope Paul VI, Marinduque was created as an independent Diocese. It was called Diocese of Boac.
On 10 May 1978, carried by the effect of the Papal Bull, the Diocese of Boac was canonically erected according to the Decretum Executorium signed by Most. Rev. Bruno Torpigliani, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. Most Rev. Rafael M. Lim, the former Bishop of Laoag since 1971 and a native of Boac, was appointed on 26 January 1978 by Paul VI as the first Bishop of the new Diocese.
Boac is a poor Diocese in the island province of Marinduque. Its geographical location contributes greatly to this situation driving Marinduquenos (the inhabitants of the island) to seek for greener pasture outside of its provincial confine. Seeking excellence through God given talents, some have defied poverty by going out of the island and engaging into a multi-faceted business world. Many have succeeded; others have worked hard and achieved the prestige of national positions in government offices; while the majority has remained in the island-province contented with the kind of life they had since birth. Marinduquenos are peace-loving, simple, religious and hardworking.
Through the loving guidance of the Most Rev. Rafael M. Lim, the first bishop of the diocese, a diocesan vision is made in 1981: Marinduque, Simbahan ng mga Dukha na may Katarungan, Pag-big at Kapayapaan. Through a concerted effort of the faith community and upon the leadership of the Clergy, the local Church of Marinduque tried to realize this dream for the diocese. Programs and activities were focused towards this vision. Many of them have succeeded and have been continuously implemented within the diocese. In one of the monthly recollections in 1998, the members of the Clergy affirmed that the Diocese is a Church that is materially poor but with a deep grasp and sense of the Lord. Poverty exists because of sinful structures and those who are socially poor are marginalized. The diocese aims towards a participatory Church where both poor and rich people share each other’s time, talent and treasure; where harmonious relationship exists between them thereby giving witness to the spirit of pastoral charity. As the Church denounces the sinful causes and structures of poverty, she at the same time designs programs and plans to alleviate the condition of the poor and inspires her ministers to the real witnessing of the spirit of poverty.
Although the Diocese is materially poor, giving and sharing have a great place in the minds, hearts, and practices of the people. There is a remarkable atmosphere of sensitivity, cooperation and responsibility towards one’s neighbors and to the Church’s programs and activities. Poverty has become an occasion for sensitivity among the people of God in the Local Church of Marinduque. On 10 September 1998, Most Rev. Rafael M. Lim, the first Bishop of the diocese passed away. Concerted efforts of the members of the Clergy and the collaboration of the faith community towards achieving a diocesan vision have not been hampered by his death. Through an unending support of the successors of Bishop Lim, the diocese edged towards achieving its vision. Their dedication and zealousness have paved and cemented the areas of concerns for the benefit of the people of Marinduque especially in their faith and belief in God.
On 10 May 2003, the Silver Anniversary Foundation of the Diocese of Boac was celebrated. Prompted by the creative thinking and pastoral concern of the new Bishop Jose F. Oliveros, the First Diocesan Synod was held on 4-9 May 2003 whose objectives include: to thank God for all the graces the Diocese received from Him for the past years; to assess and evaluate the life of faith and pastoral activities in the past up to the present; and to plan for the better future of the Diocese. This ecclesial activity is based on the admonition of the Holy Father John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter entitled Tertio Millennio Ineunte which says that: “We do all these things in order to discover and reflect on the face of Christ. Because our witnessing would be nothing if we would not discover and reflect the face of God.” Synodal decrees came out after a weeklong deliberation and reflection of the appointed delegates from the fourteen parishes of the diocese. Participated also by government and civil servants and together with the different sectoral leaders from the local communities, the progress of the Synod edged slowly towards its historic culmination wherein decrees based on the diocesan vision: Marinduque Simbahan ng mga Dukha na may Katarungan, Pag-ibig at Kapayapaan were finally voted and ratified. In her journey towards a new way of life as a church, after the advent of the Diocesan Synod 2003, the local church of Marinduque is once again sent by Christ: “Duc in altum, ecclesia pauperum, in iustitia, in caritate et in pace.” This is a new call that demands a new response and sharing in the mission of Christ. As a Diocese, she cannot accomplish all the necessary changes expected of her as a people of God, all by herself. There will be no significant implementations of all the Synodal Decrees towards the realization of her vision: “Marinduque, church of the poor with justice, love and peace”, without the much needed support and cooperation of all the faithful to this new endeavor.
After the Synodal Decrees were solemnly voted by the delegates at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Boac and canonically ratified by the Local Ordinary of the Diocese, much remained for their eventual implementation. This has become the main task handed over to the new Bishop-elect Most Rev. Reynaldo G. Evangelista by the former Bishop Oliveros who was transferred to shepherd the Diocese of Malolos in 5 August 2004. Having in mind the value of the Sy-
nodal Decrees, Bishop Evangelista expressed his desire to continue with the existing programs and activities in the diocese. Equipped with pastoral experiences and engaged in the formation of seminarians in the Archdiocese of Lipa before becoming a Bishop of Boac, Bishop Evangelista called for a Pastoral Assembly in September 2006 to look into the Decrees and its implementation in the diocese. A Diocesan Pastoral Plan was unanimously approved based on the Synodal Decrees.
Positive outlook of the future is heightening based on the optimism of the people of Marinduque since the First Diocesan Synod in 2003. The positive gestures of the Bishop and the entire Clergy are encouraging and thus ushering in great hope for a brighter future of the Church in Marinduque. God is so good to the Diocese through the witnessing of the priests and the Bishop of Boac. The Diocese of Boac aspires to become a witnessing community of the Church of the Poor where justice, love and peace reign. Moving towards the task of continuous evangelization of the people, the diocese propels towards the vast ocean to fish for its constituents in her local Church bringing and putting into mind the imperative of Jesus Christ: “Duc in altum, ecclesia, pauperum, in iustitia, in caritate, et in pace.”