Friday, August 1, 2008

The Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay

Three of its parishes are over 300 years old: the Parish of Sta. Monica (Taytay) having been founded in 1622, the Parish of St. Augustine (Cuyo) also in 1622, and the Parish of San Juan Bautista in 1692. Four parishes are over 100 years old: the Parish of St. Augustine (Coron) having been founded in 1901, the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi (El Nid) also in 1901, the Parish of Nuestra Senora de Araceli (Araceli) in 1902 and the Parish of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1906. Yet, the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay is only a little over five (5) years old, having been established on May 26, 2002 from what was then the Apostolic Vicariate of Palawan.

Three of its parishes have beautiful centuries-old stone forts: the Parish of Sta. Monica (Taytay), the Parish of St. Augustine (Cuyo) and the Parish of San Juan Bautista (Agutaya). Three other parishes have remnants of what were then mighty forts: the Parish of St. Michael the Archangel (Linapacan), the Parish of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Culion), and the Parish of St. John the Baptist (Dumaran). Yet, the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay is still gathering stones to build its own Cathedral in Taytay. At present, in the words of its Vicar Apostolic, the Most Reverend Edgardo S. Juanich, D.D., Taytay has the biggest cathedral in the world with the stars as its roof at night and the clouds as its shade during the day.

The territory is known for its world class resorts, foremost of which are the Amanpulo (Agutaya), Club Noah Isabelle (Taytay), Club Paradise (Coron) and Miniloc Island Resort (El Nido). It is also the source of the much sought-after but expensive bird’s nest of the balinsasayaw which is supposedly extremely good for one’s health (a kilo sells for around P150,000) and of live fish or buhay-buhay, in particular, of the red lapulapu fish a good size of which sells for P1500 a kilo. Yet, the communities in the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay are among the most poor in Palawan. Except for the towns of Roxas and Coron, the rest of Northern Palawan do not enjoy a 24-hour supply of electricity nor a good water system that provides water in respective households. Except for Culion which has a general hospital, there are no good hospitals in the area. The local government units, though, have money to spent for the improvement of their airport facilities meant to lure more tourists.

This is the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay.

The vicariate has twenty (20) parishes, ten (10) of which are found in Northern Mainland Palawan and another ten (10) are situated in the islands, in particular, in the Calamianes Group of Islands and the Cuyo Group of Islands. Travel from one parish to another, even in the mainland, is too weather-dependent because a day’s rain often transforms the roads into soft cakes of clay and makes some stretches in the national highway impassable. Travel from one island parish to another is just as difficult and dangerous because the Amihan and the Habagat winds spawn big waves that can sink small pumpboats and can unnerve bangkeros of lesser mettle.

Its Principal Patron is St. Joseph the Worker (May 1). The vicariate, moreover, venerates the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, St. John of God, and St. Benedict Menni as its Secondary Patrons.

The Most Reverend Edgardo S. Juanich is Taytay’s first Vicar Apostolic and the first Palawano Priest, Taytay’s very own, to be raised to the ranks of the episcopacy. He was appointed as Vicar Apostolic by the late Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2002, ordained Bishop by His Excellency Antonio Franco, former Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, on July 11, 2002 and installed as the first Vicar Apostolic of Taytay on July 12, 2002.

Working hand-in-hand with the Bishop and the Diocesan Clergy in pursuing the aims of the vicariate are the Fathers of the Society of Jesus (Parish Work and Educational Apostolate in Culion) and the Mill Hill Fathers (Parish Work in Turda, Coron) as well as the Mensa Domini Sisters of the Lord’s Table (Catechetical and BEC Work in Taytay), the St. Paul of Chartres Sisters (Catechetical and Hospital Work in Culion), the Augustinian Recollect Sisters (Educational Apostolate in Liminangcong, Taytay) and the Daughters of Charity Sisters (Parish Work and Educational Apostolate in Coron).

In its First Vicarial Pastoral Consultation and Planning held at the Parish of St. Isidore the Farmer (Roxas) on October 7-11, 2002, the delegates articulated the Vision of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay with these words: Led by the Spirit in discerning the signs of the times, We, envision the local church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay, Palawan as a community of Christ’s disciples, with Mary as our model, journeying together in proclaiming the Father’s reign.

At present, the priests of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay run and man the Seminario de San Jose in Puerto Princesa City, with the Very Reverend Monsignor Jose D. Delfin, Ph.D. as Rector and Principal. Seminario de San Jose is a high school and college seminary program of both the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Taytay.

In the whole vicariate, the promotion and development of Basic Ecclesial Communities has been relentlessly pursued. Its Ministry on Worship and Liturgy has been conducting updating seminars and workshops for the Special Ministers of the Eucharist as well as for the parishes’ Lectors and Commentators. Its Ministry on Mass Media and Communications has ventured into radio broadcasting with its regular Sunday radio broadcast on the air for over a year.

The vicariate’s Ministry on Clergy Formation has already sent most of its Senior Clergy to the Integrated Renewal Program organized by the Archdiocese of Manila in San Carlos Seminary. Its Ministry on Catechetics has finished its drafts on two (2) catechisms and intends to publish them this 2008: Checkbook to Heaven (A Basic Catechism for Elementary School Pupils) and I, Sick (A Catechism for the Sick). Its Ministry on Youth has been conducting Youth Camps with the hope of making the Youth more participative and active in church activities and of promoting vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.

On his own, the Vicar Apostolic has been visiting communities of Indigenous People in Northern Palawan.

One of the many landmark projects the vicariate has achieved in its five-year history is the 2006 Memorandum of Agreement it has forged with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regarding Forest Protection and Development Program covering an area of 1077 hectares. Seizing this opportunity of “adopting a mountain,” the vicariate has developed a demonstration farm in Sitio Quilala for vermicompost, herbal garden, vegetable garden, a fishpond, among other things. It has also initiated tree planting programs at Sitio Quilala for its diocesan priests and other sectors in Northern Palawan even as it has pursued the spiritual and pastoral care of the settlers in the mountain entrusted to the vicariate. Very recently, a Mass Wedding for some of these settlers has been successfully concluded. Three monks with roots from the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras, Iloilo, live as hermits in three separate stations in the mountain.

Indeed, given its short history -- with the first five (5) years spent in strengthening old parishes. establishing new mission territories/parishes, as well as in making the different ministries become more responsive to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Faithful -- the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay now looks forward to erecting the first pillars of its cathedral. Given another five (5) years, through God’s grace and the generosity of friends – that is, stone after stone after stone, peso after peso after peso, prayer after prayer after prayer – the vicariate hopes that the spires of the St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral shall be ready to reach out to the heavens.

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