ESSAY: Catholic Faith in Nueva Segovia (2nd part)

At first basic instruction meant the teaching of the Christian doctrine
but later on, a broader concept of education developed. Aware of their
limited number and without any regard for priority rights they might
have claimed, the Augustinians called on the other orders,
congregations and the diocesan clergy, so that the work of
Christianization could be expanded. This produced local heroes among
the secular clergy like P. Jose A. Burgos (1837-1872) of Vigan and P.
Gregorio L. Aglipay (1860-1940) of Batac, Ilocos Norte.

There were also three factors which determined certain important shifts in the process of expansion of Christianization in Ilocos: First, the appointment in 1595 of a Dominican as the first bishop of Nueva Segovia, which included Ilocos Sur; second, the expropriation of several Ilocano parishes from the Augustinians by Gov. Simon de Anda y Salazar and Bp. Miguel Garcia de San Esteban, OP, in 1771; and third, the end of the Augustinian apostolate in Ilocos, due to the Revolution in 1898.

After more than 400 years of evangelization, there have been 34 canonically appointed bishops in Nueva Segovia, 27 of them were Spaniards, 3 Americans, and 4 Filipinos. Of these prelates were 14 OP, 11 diocesan clergy, 5 OSA, 2 OAR, 1 CSC, 1 OMI. In the list of bishops two have been raised to the rank of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. Nueva Segovia was canonically elevated into an archdiocese on 29 June 1951 by Pope Pius XII with the bull Quo in Philippina Republica. From the original Nueva Segovia diocese, 3 archdioceses, 11 dioceses, 2 pre-lates nullius, and 3 apostolic vicariates have been created.

The present territorial jurisdiction of Nueva Segovia is the civil provinces of Ilocos Sur. It has 38 canonically established parishes, 21 of which were established before the 1900’s. There are two visitas which are municipalities and six parishes which are barangay based. At present, the parishes are served by the diocesan clergy with the help of the CICM in the interior parts of the archdiocese. The archdiocese is divided into six vicariates. The archdiocesan schools are operated by the diocesan clergy, with the help of MCST, OSS, RSC sisters, and lay leaders. There are also two catholic colleges which are managed by the SVD fathers and the SPC sisters. The social apostolate of the archdiocese is managed by Caritas Nueva Segovia. The media apostolate is served by Radio DZNS and the news weekly paper Timek ti Amianan. The archdiocesan commissions office coordinates the other apostolates on the laity, the family, the youth, the liturgy, vocations, tribal Filipinos, the Bible, catechesis, and the cultural heritage of the church. The current pastoral thrust of evangelization work in the Archdiocese is the formation of SISAs or Simbaan Sangakarrubaan, establishing barangay based catechesis for children, youth, adult individuals and families.

The first Nueva Segovia Pastoral Assembly (NSPA 1) convoked on 11-17 April 1993 by Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, DD, was truly a Pentecostal event where the Catholic Church in Ilocos Sur experienced the renewing love of God’s Holy Spirit. The decrees speak of transforming the Church and Society through a renewed announcing of the Lord Jesus and His Gospel. Authentic discipleship is the key aspiration of the assembly. The Church that is envisioned is a Church of rich and poor but where everyone is moved by the preferential love of Jesus for the poor. The political, economic and cultural values of the people need to be refashioned according to what Jesus did and taught, lived and died for, according to His Father’s Will and the Kingdom of God. Out of this will come a new way of being Church in Nueva Segovia.

     (To be concluded)