ABOUT THE MILITARY ORDINARIATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
The Military Ordinariate of the Philippines is a diocese for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It has jurisdiction over all military personnel, their dependents, and the civilian employees of all branches of the armed forces. Its titular patron is the Immaculate Conception, and for secondary patrons it has St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. John Capistran.
The Military Ordinariate of the Philippines was first erected as a military vicariate on December 8 of 1950, decreed by the Sacred Congregation of the Consistory. This decree took effect on December 10, 1951, when the Most Reverend Rufino Santos, D.D., then Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, took possession of this vicariate and became the first Military Vicar in the country.
On April 12, 1986, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution “Spirituum Militum Curae” which took effect on July 21, 1986. This constitution was unique in that it began a new structure for all military vicariates all over the world. Elevating these vicariates to the level of “Ordinaries” actually placed them on the level of dioceses.
The Military Ordinariate has its own curia and exercises its pastoral ministry through 66 military chaplains assigned to the different branches of service within the armed forces which are considered its vicariates – those of General Headquarters, the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine National Police. The exact number of the faithful who come under this jurisdiction is considered classified information, but it is 90 per cent Catholic.
The Military Ordinariate of the Philippines has 67 priests, mostly diocesan, who carry military officers’ ranks and are assigned to defence command posts all over the country. The Most Reverend Rufino Santos was succeeded in the Military Ordinariate by Most Reverend Mariano Gaviola who was installed March 2, 1974.