HISTORY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CAPIZ
Capiz comes from the word “KAPIS” that means in the local language a “mollusk.” The natives of the Province are called “Capizeños” or “Capiznons.” In 1566 the Spanish Augustinians led by Fray Martin de Rada evangelized the town of Panay, the first Christian town in the Island, along the banks of its river. From 1569 until 1571 the first Spanish governor-general Miguel Lopez de Legazpi made the same town his second Spanish settlement, before proceeding to Manila. There were fifteen (15) parishes founded by the Augustinians in the province of Capiz: Panay (1581), Dumarao (1581), Dumalag (1596), Mambusao (1607), which was under the Recollects in 1758-1793; Roxas City, formerly Capiz (1707), Sigma (1744), Panitan (1806), Dao (1836), Ivisan (1840), Loctugan (1848), Pilar (1865), Cuartero (1872), Tapaz (1874), Pontevedra (1878), and Maayon (1893). There was a steady of growth of Christian converts in the province from its initial evangelization until the end of the Spanish Period in 1898.
When Pope Leo XIII issued the historic constitution Quae mari sinico on September 17, 1902, a new division of dioceses in the Philippines was desired and proposed by the sacred Hierachy, which initially included Capiz. The bull reads: “Hence necessity demands, under existing circumstances, that we should restrict somewhat the limits of the old dioceses and erect other new ones. Wherefore, preserving still the Archdiocesen of Manila and the dioceses of Cebu, Caceres, Nueva Segovia and Jaro, we institute and erect four other dioceses, namely, those of Lipa, Tuguegarao, Capiz and Zamboanga, all of which like the others, suffragans of the Metropolitan of Manila.”
This just shows the historical prominence of Capiz in the evangelization of the Philippines. Interestingly, however, after an eight-year delay of the implementation of this papal decree, all except Capiz became new dioceses on April 10, 1910. Instead of the originally named Capiz, Calbayog in Samar with Palawan was raised to the status of a prefecture. Two possible reasons in history can be deduced: first, several Filipino priests in the diocese of Jaro for example, expressed their displeasure and protest, thus writing to the then Apostolic Delegate, Giovanni Battista Guidi about their negative reactions; and second, the constant threat of Aglipayanism, causing internal divisions and conflicts among the clergy.
After almost fifty years, however, Capiz was finally erected a Diocese on May 28, 1951 with Most Rev. Manuel Yap, D.D. as the first Bishop through the papal bull of Pope Pius XII Ex supremi apostolatus. On January 17, 1976 the Diocese of Capiz was elevated into an Archdiocese with Most Rev. Antonio F. Frondosa, D.D, as the first Archbishop through the papal bull of Pope Paul VI Nimium patens. Its suffragans are the Diocese of Romblon and the Diocese of Capiz.
Most Rev. Onesimo C. Gordoncillo, D.D. became the new Archbishop of Capiz with his installation at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral on August 27, 1986, with Most Rev. Bruno Torpigliani, D.D., the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, as the presider.
On November 9, 2011, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the mandatory canonical retirement of Archbishop Gordoncillo, after 25 years of Episcopal ministry. In his place, the Holy Father appointed the Bishop of San Carlos, Most Rev. Jose F. Advincula, D.D., as the new Archbishop of Capiz. Last January 11, 2012, the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese in joyous festivity welcomed him in his canonical installation with Most Rev. Giuseppe Pinto, D.D., the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, as the presider.
At present, the province of Capiz has a population of 766,753. Its capital, Roxas City, has a population of 147,738. Capiz is composed of sixteen (16) municipalities and one (1) chartered city (Roxas City). Roman Catholics make 97% of the total population (715,128). The rest are Protestants, Aglipayans, Iglesia ni Kristo, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other minor non-Catholic sects, as well as a group of Muslims from Mindanao. The lay faithful are conservative, loyal to the Church, and actively participating in the many ministries and activities of the Archdiocese.
With God’s grace, the Archdiocese of Capiz is blessed with a good number of vocations to the priesthood. With a strong Catholic population, many parents would send their young boys to the seminary. A good number of them would proceed to philosophical and theological studies, and eventually would be candidates for ordination.
There are two seminaries in the Archdiocese. The St. Pius X Seminary for minor (high school) seminarians, founded in 1957 and the seminary for major seminarians – the Sancta Maria Mater et Regina Seminarium in Brgy. Cagay, Roxas City, which opened in 1999. The major seminary is situated within the city and yet away from the distractions of the secular life of the city. It is very conducive to study and prayer. It is composed of two departments: the philosophy department (four years of studies) and the theology department, which started in 2001 (five years of studies). A Spiritual-Pastoral Formation Year Program, which is catered in a different house and location, is integrated in the five-year theological formation which all undergo, where the spiritual and pastoral aspects of formation are strengthened. For the ten years (10) of its existence, the major seminary has produced twenty-three (23) priests.
The Archdiocese of Capiz has ordained 210 priests since its erection in 1951. Every year, we have priestly ordinations, averaging from one (1) up to nine (9) ordinandi. Today, the Archdiocese has 118 diocesan priests working in the thirty-two (32) parishes, three (3) quasi-parishes, eighteen (18) mission stations, and twenty-eight (28) Catholic schools, and in local and foreign missions like Jamaica, Guam and U.S.A.