The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lipa today comprises the civil province of Batangas located in the southwestern part of the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
The San Sebastian Cathedral also known as the Cathedral of Lipa is a Roman Catholic church located in Lipa, Batangas. It was formerly located on the Shore of Taal Lake and was destroyed when Taal Volcano erupted in 1754. Reconstruction of the church on the present site began in 1732 and ended in 1790. According to legend, the image of San Sebastian disappeared from the church and was later found by the townspeople on a lipa tree, which led to the town being named after it.
San Sebastian Cathedral is constructed from rough-hewn, rectangular stone and has a six-storey octagonal bell tower which rests on a rectangular base and tapers gradually to the cupola on top.
Creation of the Diocese
The Diocese of Lipa was created on April 10, 1910, separating it from that of Manila under the supervision of Pope Pius X. The diocese then covered the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque and Mindoro, with Most Reverend Joseph Petrelli, D.D., as the first bishop. He was faced with a monumental task because the diocese was large and there was but a handful of priests.
Bishop Petrelli invited different religious Roman Catholic religious institutes to come to his diocese and help minister to the spiritual needs of the faithful. He also conceived the building of a seminary in the diocese. In June 1914 a diocesan seminary was built in Bauan, which was later transferred to San Pablo in Laguna. This initiative of the first bishop was continued by the next bishop, Alfredo Verzosa, D.D., who served a long term from 1916 to 1950. He invited priests from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help in the administration of the new seminary.
In 1950 Rufino Santos took over the diocese. Described as a financial administrator of great acumen, Bishop Santos applied for bank loans to help construct some buildings. This way he continued the construction work of the Lipa Cathedral and built a major seminary beside it.
As the Archdiocese of Lipa changed hands over the years, changes too were happening to its territorial jurisdiction over certain areas. These were proud moments for the archdiocese, when a number of provinces had acquired the capability to stand on their own. Thus in 1936 Mindoro was separated and became the Apostolic Prelature of Calapan. In 1950 Lucena City became a diocese of its own, and also in 1950 the Prelature of Infanta was created, comprising the northern part of Quezon Province, Polilio and Aurora, Laguna's turn came next and became a separate diocese in 1967, that of San Pablo. The Diocese of Boac in Marinduque was created in 1977 and that of Gumaca in 1984. Both dioceses were part of the Diocese of Lucena before their establishment. In 1983 the new Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro was created.
Today the Archdiocese of Lipa is for the province of Batangas alone. But the population has multiplied many times over. The archdiocese is divided into 6 vicariates, each headed by a vicar forane . Except for the parishes in Vicariate IV which are run by the Oblates of St. Joseph, all other parishes are run by the diocesan clergy. There are 49 parishes in all, served by 143 priests, 122 of them diocesan. There are 13 religious brothers, and 197 religious sisters. Catholic schools number 23, high school seminaries 2 and college seminaries 3. Two pastoral centers are being maintained.
On August 18, 1995, after much review, and meetings presided over by Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales himself, the archdiocese's vision was conceived:
"A people of God called by the Father in Jesus Christ to be communities of totally developed human persons in the world, witnessing to the Kingdom of God by living the Paschal Mystery in the power of the Holy Spirit."
In the News
On June 20, 2012, the Archdiocese of Lipa celebrated the 40th anniversary of its elevation to an archdiocese by launching the coffeetable book, "A Century of Faith: The Local Church of Lipa". The event was held at the historic Basilica of St. Martin of Tours in Taal, Batangas.