MANILA- Among the various dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila headed by Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, the 15-year-old and populous Roman Catholic Diocese of Novaliches in the northernmost fringes of Metro Manila can be considered the most unique.
Here's why: Its territorial jurisdiction covers big portions of two premier cities which have their own dioceses - Quezon City and Caloocan City. It includes three congressional districts of Quezon City - Districts 2, 5 and 6 - and 23 barangays in North Caloocan City.
The current head of the Novaliches Diocese is Bishop Antonio G. Tobias. Its present vicar general is Rev. Fr. Antonio E. Labiao Jr.
The original town of Novaliches -- where its 12 vicariates and over 60 parishes are located - has been erased from the Philippine map for over a century ago and is now divided between Quezon City and Caloocan City.
As a result, people looking at the national map of the Philippines can no longer see any trace of the original Novaliches town, very much unlike the other dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila which also includes the Dioceses of Cubao, Pasig, Paranaque, Caloocan, Antipolo, Imus, San Pablo, Malolos, the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Taytay, and the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines.
At present, half of the Diocese of Novaliches can actually be seen as portion of the official map of Quezon City; the other half remaining with Caloocan.
What is more, about half of what is supposed to be the territory of the Caloocan Diocese belongs to the Diocese of Novaliches, having been part of the original town.
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Caloocan also cover the adjacent cities of Malabon and Navotas.
It is estimated that the Novaliches Diocese accounts for at least half of the more than 2.93 million people of Quezon City and about the same ratio of the population of 1.58 million of Caloocan City.
Background on the creation of the Diocese of Novaliches.
The Diocese of Novaliches was established on Dec. 7, 2002, and was canonically erected on Jan. 16, 2003 from its ecclesiastical province, the Archdiocese of Manila, by Pope John Paul II.
It was created by the Vatican along with the Dioceses of Cubao, Pasig and Paranaque during the time of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin.
The Diocese of Paranaque, established on Dec. 7, 2002, covers the adjacent cities of Paranaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa.
On the other hand, the Diocese of Cubao, created on June 28, 2003, comprises the southern half of Quezon City, specifically Districts 1, 3 and 4.
The Diocese of Pasig, established also in 2003, covers the cities of Pasig and Taguig as well as the town of Pateros.
At present, the Manila Archdiocese juridically covers the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan and Pasay as well as the Our Lady of EDSA Shrine in Quezon City.
The first head of the Novaliches Diocese was Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani Jr. He became Bishop Emeritus of Novaliches upon his replacement by Bishop Tobias,
The seat of the diocese, which is dedicated to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is located at Regalado Avenue Extension, Fairview, Novaliches. It has a total land area of 138 square kilometers .
The boundaries of the Novaliches Diocese are as follows: San Jose Del Monte City and Marilao town in Bulacan on the North; Marikina City and the towns of Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) and San Mateo in Rizal on the East; Tandang Sore Avenue and Mactan Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City on the South; and Caloocan City-South and Valenzuela City on the West.
The dozen vicariates of the diocese are the:
Vicariate of Christ the King, Vicariate of Our Lady of Lourdes, Vicariate of Sto. Nino, Vicariate of the Holy Cross, Vicariate of Ascension of Our Lord, Vicariate of Good Shepherd, Vicariate of Holy Spirit, Vicariate of Our Lady of Mercy, Vicariate of San Bartolome, Vicariate of San Isidro Labrador, Vicariate of Saint St. Peter, and Vicariate of Ina ng Lupang Pangako. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency