Roman Catholic Diocese of Borongan

Diocese of Borongan
Dioecesis Boronganensis
Diyosesis han Borongan
Country Philippines
Ecclesiastical province Palo
Metropolitan Palo
Area 4,339 km2 (1,675 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
465,000 (93.8%)
Parishes 32
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 22 October 1960
Cathedral Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Borongan
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Crispin Barrete Varquez
Metropolitan Archbishop John F. Du
Vicar General Lope C. Robredillo
Episcopal Vicars Dan Gañas
Leroy Geli
Joberto Picardal
Website of the Diocese

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Borongan (Lat: Dioecesis Boronganensis) is a Roman Rite diocese of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.

Erected in 1960, from territory in the Diocese of Calbayog, the diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Palo.

The Diocese of Borongan was created on October 22, 1960 by Pope John XXIII. Bishop Vicente Reyes was the first diocesan bishop of Borongan. On June 19, 1965, the island of Samar was politically divided and the province of Eastern Samar was born thus the island of Samar has three dioceses: Calbayog for Western Samar, Catarman for Northern Samar and Borongan for Eastern Samar.

Eastern Samar has a population of 374,255, 97 percent are Catholics.. It is subdivided into 1 city and 22 municipalities. It has a land area of 4,470.75 square kilometers. It is bounded on the north by Northern Samar, on the east by the Philippines Sea, on the west by Western Samar and on the south by Leyte Gulf. The Diocese of Borongan is divided into three regions, each has two vicariates. The diocese has 26 parishes, ministered by 60 diocesan and five religious priests. Borongan is the seat of the episcopal see.

The diocese has experienced no jurisdictional changes.

The current bishop is Crispin Barrete Varquez, appointed in 2007.


THOUGH the Estehanons’ first recorded encounter with Christianity occurred on March 16, 1521 when Magellan’s expedition reached Homonhon island, the historical beginnings of the Diocese of Borongan may be traced to as far back as 1585 when Augustinians set foot on Eastern Samar, but especially 1595 when Jesuits from Dagami, Leyte, systematically preached the gospel to the natives of the southern part of the island. The people in the eastern littorals, on the other hand, were evangelized by Jesuits from Catubig and, later, Palapag as early as 1601. In spreading the Christian religion, the missionaries initiated the reduccion of the population and founded towns, educated the inhabitants in the faith, raised stone churches, taught agriculture, and protected the faithful from Muslim raids. The major bungtos at that time were Bacod (now part of Dolores river bed), Jubasan (now Giboangan, Can-avid), Sulat, Libas, Borongan, Guiuan and Balangiga. On the whole, there was no stiff opposition to the reception of Catholic faith. After half a century, however, the mission suffered a major setback in the Sumuroy rebellion in 1649.

When the Jesuits moved out in 1768, the Franciscans took over the parishes that the former had created save for Guiuan and Balangiga which were briefly administered by Augustinians. The major problems that they faced were largely the same: population dispersion, Muslim raids and cholera epidemics. They founded the parishes of Lanang (1851), Balangiga (1854), Sudao (1862), Oras (1863), Libas (1863), Nag-as (1864), Paric (1878), and Quinapondan (1894). These parishes, together with those founded by the Jesuits, all twelve of them, constituted the Vicariate of the Eastern Coast of Samar, under the Diocese of Cebu. In terms of orthodoxy, however, they found a big challenge in the influential but heretical teachings of Don Gaspar de Guerrero. It may be remarked that during this period, some Samareño priests already held parishes as pastors. However, the Spanish–American War in 1899 shook the Franciscan ministry and the local Church on Samar as a whole, what with the anticlericalism and Aglipayanism of Gen Vicente Lukban who had presented himself as Aguinaldo’s appointed Governor of Samar. In fact, the Spanish friars resigned from their posts. But at the same time, many people, including a number of Filipino priests, suffered from American ill-treatment. Bucolic life was disrupted; hundreds of Samareños were killed. Though Lukban was captured in 1902, peace never reigned; in the fierce war of the Philippine scouts with the local freedom-fighters, the Pulajanes, the latter practically controlled the island until 1905, leaving much suffering in its wake. As a consequence, there was dearth of priests, between 1899 to 1905, to serve the needs of Samareños.

On April 10, 1910, the Estehanons became part of the Diocese of Calbayog, when the island of Samar was separated from the Diocese of Cebu. Protestantism, American education system, and American culture became a challenge. Several Franciscans returned to work in the parishes. Partly to counteract the spread of Protestantism, a Catholic school was established in Guiuan in 1927, as was done in other towns of the island. Other schools followed eventually placed under the management of or established by the RVM sisters (Assumption College of Samar, 1940; St Joseph’s College, 1946; Holy Cross Institute, 1947; Our Lady of Fatima Academy 1949; and St Anthony’s Academy, 1949; Loyola Academy 1958 reverted to Msgr Desoloc). During World War II, which displaced, decimated and impoverished the Estehanons, some priests aided Filipino guerillas. After the war, the following parishes on the eastern part of the island were created, now all under Filipino priests: San Ramon (1955), Giporlos (1955), Maydolong (1956), Can-avid (1956), Sulangan (1957), Pambujan (1958), Matarinao-Burac (1959) and San Policarpo (1959). Catechesis in elementary school was engaged in by almost all parishes. In 1957, A lone Italian missionary (FdCC) started working in the parish of Jipapad.

On October 22, 1960, Pope John XIII issued the apostolic bull, Quod sacri, creating the Diocese of Borongan (Dioecesis Boronganensis), which originally included the aforementioned parishes as well as the parishes of Gamay, Basey, Calbiga, Pinabacdao, Villareal, Osmeña, Talolora and Sta Rita. Bp Vicente P Reyes, DD, was the first bishop, installed on April 11, 1961. The minor seminary, Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, was formally inaugurated in 1965. Partly to halt the inroads of Protestantism in parishes, and in compliance with the First Plenary Council of the Philippines, diocesan schools, managed by diocesan priests, were also established: Jesus Nazareno Academy (Maydolong) 1962; Divine Child Academy (Lawaan) 1962; Borongan Cathedral School 1965, and Guimbaolibot Memorial School 1965. Apart from Lapinig in Northern Samar, erected were the parishes of San Buenaventura/Balangkayan (1961), Lawaan (1961), Mercedes (1964) and Lalawigan (1964). The faith was sustained among others by the strengthening of the Catholic organizations/cofradias (San Antonio, Lourdes, COM, Apostolados, San Jose, Holy Name, etc.) under the umbrella of Catholic Action, the best known being the Catholic Women’s League (CWL), Knights of Columbus (KC) and the Legion of Mary which had 12 Curiae and 105 Praesidia. Cooperatives and credit unions in parishes were organized.

With the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the Diocese moved toward the implementation of some conciliar decrees. In 1962, the Cursillo de Cristianidad became popular in the renewal of Christian faith and life, but the movement that penetrated the common people both in the poblaciones and the barrios was the Barangay han Birhen. To involve the laity, pastoral councils were organized in several parishes as early as 1961. It was in the 1970s until the early 80s that the faithful in the Diocese, including the clergy, were confronted with the problems spawned by Martial Law: deterioration of peace and order, human rights abuses, displacement and evacuation of inhabitants, among others. People were caught up in the crossfire between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA), with many untold and unhappy consequences. In the 80s, population declined. The clergy tried to respond concretely to these problems. The diocesan thrust, following the response of the Philippine Church, was development and liberation. Developmental projects were pursued, especially for farmers and fisher folk. On December 5, 1974, the Diocese became confined to the civil province of Eastern Samar, when some of its parishes were ceded to the new diocese of Catarman. Only one parish was added in the 70s: Homonhon (1979).

Late Martial Law period (1980s) and onward saw the rise and growth of movements that sustain and deepen the Catholic faith—Charismatic under various brands, Neo-Catechumenate, Marriage Encounter (ME), Oasis of Love, El Shaddai, Light of Jesus, Chrisma, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) and the Couples for Christ family (CFC), the last one having branched out to all the parishes and large barangays. They appeared to have put a break to the spread of Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. Lay ministries were introduced. In 1991, DYVW, the only Catholic radio station in the province, started a new media ministry. New parishes were born: Maslog (Quasi-Parish, 1982), Buenavista (1999), Sapao (2004), Maypangdan (2005), Hinolaso (Quasi-Parish, 2006), Buabua (Quasi-Parish, 2006) and Sabang, Borongan (in process). Several religious congregations, each with its own apostolate, enriched the pastoral ministry: Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSH) in 1987, Sister Servants of the Visitation (SSV) in 1988, Society of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1991, Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart (SFSC) in 1995 in Dolores, Daughters of Charity (DC) in 1995-2005, Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFMConv) in 1997, Oikos Ptochos Theou (OPT) in 1998, Sisters of the Presentation of Mary (PM) in 2010 and the Living the Gospel Community (LGC) also in 2010. The Nativity of Our Lady College Seminary was established (1996) to form seminarians in the local context. Partners in formation in the faith are 2 colleges (St Mary’s College of Borongan and Mater Divinae Gratiae in Dolores) and 9 high schools, mostly run by religious sisters, a good number of pre-schools, and 1 technical school. One has yet to see, however, how the recently aired (2010) diocesan channel, Borongan Catholic TV, Channel 13, will contribute to faith formation.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II), the Borongan Diocese, after a two-year preparation, held its greatest ecclesial event: the First Diocesan Synod (1997), defining its life and mission in the present and coming years, and providing basis for its pastoral plan. Its diocesan pastoral plan was formulated in 2004, almost decade after the synod, supposedly to culminate in the golden anniversary of the diocese, but it has yet to see its implementation phase. Although the Diocese had several social programs to help the poor, like the now defunct Emergency Livelihood and Assistance Program (ELAP) in 1991, and those handled by the Social Action Center, like Small Enterprises and Kapital Assistance Program (SEKAP) in 1995, Community Health Base Program (CHBP), involvement in the election process, anti-mining advocacies, not to mention other services (orphanage, home for the aged, clinics, home for children of the poor), its pastoral thrust, as enshrined in the first synod and in the pastoral plan, was the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). The Daughters of Charity (DC) handled the program for 10 years (1995-2005), and several other communities sprouted in various parishes after they left. On the other hand, as a service to its ordained workers, the Diocese has its own medicare program (1984), pension program for the elderly priests (2007), and priests’ home (2010).

In its 50-year history, the Diocese of Borongan was governed by nine Ordinaries: (1) Bp Vicente Reyes, DD, 1st bishop of Borongan (1960-1967), his Vicars General being Msgr Simeon Desoloc (1961-1966) and Msgr Angel Hobayan (1966-1967); (2) Msgr Hobayan, JCD, Vicar Capitular (1967-1968), (3) Bp Godofredo Pedernal, DD, 2nd bishop (1968-1976), his Vicars General being Msgr Angel Hobayan (1968-1969), Msgr Conrado Balagapo (1969-1971); Msgr Desoloc (1971-1973), Msgr Hobayan (1973-1974); Msgr Desoloc (1974-1976) with Fr Exequiel Singzon as Pro-Vicar General (1974-1976); (4) Bp Ricardo Tancinco, DD, Apostolic Administrator (1976-1977), (5) Bp Sincero Lucero, DD, 3rd bishop (1977-1980), his Vicars General being Msgr Emiliano Balein (1977-1978); (6) Bp Nestor Carino, DD, 4th bishop (1980-1987), his Vicar Generals being Msgr Conrado Balagapo (1980-1985) and Msgr Alfredo Amistoso (1985-1987); (7) Bp Leonardo Medroso, DD, 5th bishop (1987-2006), his Vicars General being Msgr Crescente Japzon (1987-2001) and Msgr Lope Robredillo (2001-2006); (8) Msgr Robredillo, SThD, Diocesan Administrator (2006-2007), and (9) Bp Crispin Varquez, DD, 6th bishop (2007-to date), with Msgr Robredillo as Vicar General (2007-to date).

As of 2010, out of the around 400,000 inhabitants of the province, the Diocese has about 385,000 Catholics, who populate the 34 parishes/quasi-parishes. Compared with other dioceses, Borongan may be categorized as economically poor. In terms of personnel who co-work with the Ordinary in serving the People of God, the diocese has 89 priests. Of the 58 working in it, 5 are religious, and 54 were ordained for the diocese. Of the 29 who are outside the diocese, 10 are in Manila and suburbs, 16 are in the US, 1 in Canada, 1 in Australia, and 1 in Italy. Professionally, the diocese has 9 priests who earned doctorate degrees: 1 doctor in biblical studies, 1 in dogma, 1 in moral theology, 1 in spiritual theology, 1 in philosophy, 1 in mass media and communications, and 3 in canon law. In addition, it has 14 clerics who finished licentiate or masteral degrees in various ecclesiastical sciences.

Currently (2010) shepherding Christ’s faithful in Eastern Samar is Bp Crispin Varquez, DD, the Ordinary of the Diocese. His Vicar General or deputy is Msgr Lope Robredillo, who also serves as Chancellor, assisted by Rev Neil Tenefrancia, the Vice-Chancellor. In charge of the financial affairs is Fr Inocentes Abuda, the Financial Administrator. For administrative purposes, the Diocese is divided into three regions, Northern Region, with Fr Dan Gañas as Episcopal Vicar, Central Region, with Fr Leroy Geli, and Southern Region, with Fr Joberto Picardal. Each region has two vicariates, each headed by a Vicar Forane: the north has Msgr Alfredo Amistoso and Fr Romeo Solidon; the central Fr Eutiquio Belizar and Fr Marlon Gacho, and the south Msgr Crescente Japzon and Fr Nemesio Quiloña. In the diocesan tribunal, the Judicial Vicar is Fr Antonio Alconaba, Auditor Fr Geli, and Defender of the Bond, Fr Abuda.

To implement its various programs, the Diocese has a Pastoral Secretariat, which is directed by Fr Geli, the Executive Secretary. Corresponding to the various aspects of its pastoral life and work are the following commissions along with their respective chairs: Doctrine of the Faith, Fr Belizar; Catechesis, Fr Joseph Orsal, Mass Media and Communication, Msgr Pedro Quitorio III; Liturgy: Msgr Robredillo; Clergy: Fr Marlon Gacho; Vocation: Fr Jan Michael Gadicho; Biblical Apostolate: Fr Dan Gañas; Family and Life: Jonas Rebamontan; Youth: Fr Edgar Abucejo; Mission, Fr Philip Campomanes; Social Action, Fr Juderick Paul Calumpiano; Basic Ecclesial Communities, Fr Roderick Rodeles; Religious Associations, Fr Joberto Picardal; Cemeteries: Fr Joberto Picardal; Custody of Church Properties, Fr Edwin Juaban, and Cultural Heritage of the Church: Msgr Robredillo. These commissions, however, have yet to move on in terms of concrete pastoral plans and program of action.*


No. Picture Name From Until
1st Most Rev. Vicente P. Reyes, D.D. † 19 January 1961 (Appointed) 08 August 1967 (Appointed, Bishop of Cabanatuan)
2nd Most Rev. Godofredo Pedernal Pisig, D.D. † 26 February 1968 (Appointed) 18 September 1976 (Resigned)
3rd Most Rev. Sincero Barcenilla Lucero, D.D † 8 March 1977 (Appointed) 10 December 1979 (Appointed, Bishop of Calbayog)
4th Most Rev. Nestor Celestial Cariño, D.D 12 August 1980 (Appointed) 31 January 1986 (Resigned)
5th Most Rev. Leonardo Yuzon Medroso, D.D 18 December 1980 (Appointed) 31 January 2006 (Appointed, Bishop of Tagbilaran)
6th Most Rev. Crispin Barrete Varquez, D.D 4 August 2007 (Appointed) Present

Vicariates and Parishes

Here are the churches and chapels from the Diocese in Eastern Samar.

Vicariate of the Central Region

Vicariate of the Southern Region

Saint Anthony of Padua Parish Church, Guiuan

Vicariate of the Northern Region


There are two Seminaries under the Diocese of Borongan, which both can be located in Borongan, Eastern Samar.

Religious Congregations and Organizations

Religious Men

Religious Women

Church Organizations and Societies

Third Orders and Associates

Diocesan Events and News

Beatification Launch

In the 8th of December 1995, the Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception, Guiuan formally launched a beatification movement for Msgr. Donato Guimbaolibot, coinciding with the town fiesta and the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the town's Christian evangelization to the Vatican Council.[1]

Publicity about the movement, which was reported by several Manila newspapers, continues to raise eyebrows, more so among many people who associated Guimbaolibot with the killing of American soldiers by native bolo fighters in Balangiga, and not with the priest who suffered because of an erroneous suspicion by the Americans. Despite no formal diocesan opening of Guimbaolibot's cause, he is still recently being revered by many as a "Servant of God".

Fatima and the Typhoon Haiyan

In the year of 2013, the super typhoon Yolanda was about to struck its disaster upon the Eastern Samar provinces. In that same day in November 8, was the visitation of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal. While the miraculous statue of Mary was on way, the typhoon landed on the grounds. Exactly coming together with a typhoon, the statue was given to the Diocese of Borongan in order to help people continue the devotion to the rosary. But before the statue came, miracles began just to save the miraculous image. Here are some accounts given by some testimonies about the blessed virgin.

At the Cathedral of Our Lady of Nativity, the guard was aware about a lady with an umbrella. She was walking, while the winds were blowing hard. She was warned by the guard, but she wouldn’t budge, but only to come in and out of the church. In this time of event was early in the morning. As the wind blew, that no houses could ever be seen, a lady holding an umbrella was praying towards the shores, they have said that the lady was Mary going to stop the storm.

Another was that the people, point out that there was a lady wearing a white dress in the shores of the Borongan City. She was dancing in the rain and in the waves, making herself soaking wet and making the storm surge stop flowing to the villages. Some people say also that the lady was Mary, making the huge wave stop from devastating homes. The Church recognizes this miracle, for they have discovered that the lady was Mary, protecting her church in Borongan, and she also stopped the huge storm surge for her image from Fatima, Portugal was visiting the Cathedral. In Tacloban, a professor was petitioning the event to the Vatican that this may be considered as a miracle.

Pilgrimage Relics of Saint Anthony

For the second time, the first class relics of Saint Anthony of Padua visited again the Philippines starting on April 20, 2016 up to May 02, 2016. And fortunately, several churches from the Diocese of Borongan were chosen among the routes where the Relics of the Great Saint would stand by for a moment giving an opportunity to his devotees for veneration. The first class relics are solely from Padua, Italy, and is said to be a piece of the Saint's skin from his face while the other is a fragment of his rib.

Starting on April 25, 2016, the first class relics from the Archdiocese of Palo where delivered privately and solemnly to the well-known Pilgrimage church which bears the Saint's name in Sulangan, Guiuan. Hundreds of devotees came to pay respect to the heavenly remains of their beloved patron, and a mass was made which was presided over by the Most Rev. Crispin Barrete Varquez. The next day, April 26, 2016 at morning, it was then delivered to the Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Llorente, Eastern Samar, and in the afternoon, it was then moved to the Franciscan Friary in Dolores, Eastern Samar to be acquainted with fellow Franciscan brothers. The visit ended on May 02, 2016 at the Saint Ezekiel Moreno Oratory within the Diocese of Parañaque.

See also


Coordinates: 11°36′26″N 125°25′58″E / 11.6071°N 125.4327°E / 11.6071; 125.4327

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