A Birth

A BIRTH is usually met with jubilation, prayer and thanksgiving. It was thus when the Diocese of Sorsogon came into being. When the Papal Bull of June 29, 1951 mandated that Sorsogon become a suffragan of the archdiocese of Caceres, exultation and thankful prayers filled the hearts of its people.

Spanish conquistadores gave Sorsogon its first encounter with Christianity. This was in the year 1569 when Fr. alfonso Jimenez, chaplain of the expedition under Luis Enriquez de Guzman celebrated the first mass upon landing on the coast of sitio Gibal-ong, barangay Siuton, in the town of Magallanes.

Christianity, however, was formally established in Sorsogon with the planting of the Cross on the shores of Casiguran town, in 1600, by Franciscan Friars. This was a prelude to the erection of the first church building dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy rosary, still presently revered as Casiguran’s patroness.

From there, Franciscan missionaries devotedly spread the faith to the other towns. In Bacon, 1617, Bulusan, 1630 and Donsol in 1668. The other twelve towns followed suit in the course of time. In the original geographic division, the province of Sorsogon formed part of albay province. It seceded as a separate province on October 17, 1984. By canonical reckoning the Diocese of Sorsogon was originally part of the archdiocese of Caceres. When it came into its own as a diocese, it embraced the territory of Masbate until March 23, 1968 when the Holy See decreed that Masbate be made into a separate diocese.

At present the Diocese of Sorsogon encompasses the civil territory of the Province of Sorsogon and the City of Sorsogon.

Sorsogon became a diocese at a time when bishops were still regarded as lords in the hierarchical chain of a Church steeped in rites and pageantry. They appear before the people in regal attire, deeply accentuating the barrier that divided the faithful from the clergy and the clergy from the episcopate. The local Church then was characterized by this visible demarcation when the Most rev. Teopisto V. alberto was installed on October 7, 1952 as the first Bishop of Sorsogon. Notwithstanding such conditions, Bishop Alberto underwent the sacrifices and difficulties of establishing a diocese so recently weaned. In recognition of his efforts, he was elevated as Coadjutor archbishop of the archdiocese of Caceres. His successor, the Most Rev. Arnulfo S. Arcilla, was installed on December 12, 1959 as the 2nd Bishop of Sorsogon.