I was doing my research work and profiling in my own diocese for Transformative Pastoral Leadership Program. As I was scanning those old yet valuable documents, I was able to discover the humble beginning of the erection of the Diocese of Surigao. I noticed myself that much of my attention was leading to know these few significant persons (hopefully not forgotten) of this beloved Diocese. They were the first who laid the foundation of faith in the lives of all Surigaonuns, of which, we are still enjoying now.
I opted to share this short information as a simple act of gratitude for them who were not Surigaonuns yet labored so much for all of us. We may not know their names and even recognize their faces but it goes without saying that they have contributed much to where we are now.
As I was gazing at their (bishops) pictures, I could not help but imagine the vastness and beauty of the Diocese of Surigao at present– the clergy, consecrated nuns serving the Diocese, lay leaders, and the faithful congregation. These are just few of the many concrete evidences of how they gave themselves faithfully and zealously in their apostolic and prophetic role in building the local church of Surigao.
Pagkagana ba lamang handumun na kun uno kita kuman, nagpakita na jaoy mga tawo na nag-una dato na naghago pagdajaw, mipa-tuyo sa ilang mga singgot para gajod sa katawhan nan Surigao. Ako na-imagine an kalisod sanan kahago kun tag-uno nila pagsugod pagtukod nan ini na Simbahan. Kalapad karadjaw an sakop nan Diocesis nan Surigao, dili pa gajod maradjaw an dayan pero malahutayon gihapon sila na miserbisyo.
Ini siguro an dako na hagit kuman dato na mga Surigaonun – Human kita makatilaw sa resulta sa paningkamot sa mga tawo na nag-una dato, magpadajon isab untana kita na maningkamot aron mapalambo kun uno may nasugdan na. Dili nato sayangan ug dauton ang mga gipundar ug gihaguan sa iban. Magmatinud-anun untana kita sa nagkalain-lain natong mga tahas diha sa Simbahan.
Sugdan ta ini kuman !
May I invite all the Surigaonuns and even those faithful congregations from the neighboring Dioceses (Tandag and Butuan) to remember and pray for our beloved Bishops who took the first lead for you and me to follow.
Let us thank the good LORD for giving us shepherds after His own heart.
Brief History of the Diocese of Surigao
It was Pope Pius XII who elevated the provinces of Surigao and Agusan into a diocese on June 3, 1939. It was erected on November 10, 1939 with Bishop James T. Hayes, SJ of Cagayan de Oro as the temporary administrator. The diocese of Surigao is a suffragan of Cagayan de Oro which comprises the entire civil province of Surigao del Norte with the titular - San Nicolas de Tolentino. It has a total land area of 3,739 sq. kms., with a total population of 457,785 and 353,764 Catholics.
The first bishop was installed on September 21, 1940 in the person of Fr. John C. Vrakking, MSC. But the joy over the birth of a new diocese was unfortunately short-lived because by then World War II broke out. The missionaries were displaced. Some of them stayed with their parishioners hiding in the mountains.
Bishop Charles VAN DEN OUWELANT, M.S.C.
(1955.03.23 – 1973.01.10)
Born: 1911.07.03 (Netherlands)
Ordained Priest: 1936.08.10
Consecrated Bishop: 1955.06.21
Died: 2003.08.22 († 92)
Bishop of Surigao (Philippines)(1955.03.23 – 1973.01.10)
Msgr. Vrakking got sick in 1953 and was succeeded by Fr. Charles van Ouwelant, MSC as administrator, and eventually on June 21, 1955, Msgr. Ouwelant was ordained second bishop of Surigao. After 18 years, in 1973 he opted to resign and give way to a Filipino
On March 31, 1973, Most Rev. Miguel C. Cinches, SVD was installed the third bishop of Surigao whose place of origin was in Dauis, Bohol, born on February 7, 1932. Bishop Cinches labored for 28 long but fruitful years in the diocese of Surigao until finally the fourth bishop
The fourth bishop of Surigao Most Rev. Antonieto D. Cabajog, DD
was an Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu prior to his assignment in Surigao.
He was appointed on April 21, 2001 and installed on July 24, 2001.