9 December 2010 -Dagupan City. “I am pleased to inform you that the Holy Father has approved our petition that the Church of Saint John the Evangelist on Burgos St., Dagupan City be recognized as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Lingayen-Dagupan”. Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, informed the clergy in his Circular Letter 11/2010, dated 12 October 2010. In the same letter, he said that Pope Benedict XVI also has withdrawn the title “Cathedral” from the Church of Saint John the Evangelist located at Zamora St. By an act of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, promulgated on 1 November 2010, the church on Zamora St., was made an archdiocesan shrine and became the ”Santuario de San Juan Evangelista”.
In his article about the history of the Archdiocese, Msgr. Rafael S. Magno, Jr., the Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese, wrote that “all the parishes of Pangasinan fell within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Nueva Segovia who had jurisdiction over the whole of northern Luzon”. He further wrote: “On May 19, 1928, the Diocese of Lingayen (comprising the whole civil province of Pangasinan, 11 towns of Tarlac and 10 towns of Nueva Ecija, and 3 towns of Zambales) was separated from the mother diocese. The first bishop of the new diocese was the Most Rev: Cesar Maria Guerrero. He was shortly succeeded by the Most Rev. Mariano Madriaga. Since 1928, the episcopal seat of the new diocese was Lingayen.”
But on May 11, 1954, it was moved to Dagupan because of the destruction wrought by World War II. It took only 25 years for Pangasinan to become an Archdiocese. On February 16, 1963, Pope Paul VI reconstituted the diocese of Lingayen into an archdiocese comprising the whole civil province of Pangasinan. The towns from Tarlac and Nueva Ecija were returned to their respective civil provinces to form two independent dioceses each as suffragans of the new Metropolitan See. The Most Rev. Mariano Madriaga was eventually elevated to the rank of Archbishop. In 1970, the diocese of La Union was created and separated from Nueva Segovia becoming another suffragan of the now Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. On January 12, 1985, the western part of Pangasinan was made into the Diocese of Alaminos, and the eastern part, the Diocese of Urdaneta, both dioceses becoming suffragans of Lingayen-Dagupan along with the dioceses of Cabanatuan, San Jose (Nueva Ecija) and San Fernando, La Union.
Building of the Church of St. John, the Evangelist on Burgos St.
On 31 May 1964, the cornerstone of the present Metropolitan Cathedral was laid in simple rites headed by Archbishop Mariano A. Madriaga, DD, and assisted by Msgr. Evaristo Soriano, the parish priest. The construction of the church immediately started with an initial amount of Phil. Pesos 24,099.80. The amount represented the toal cahs donation from the faithful.
The church was built at the back of the old cathedral facing exactly the corner of Burgos and Calimlim Streets on the west side of the church grounds.
In 1966, the construction work was temporarily stopped due to lack of funds. Archbishop Mariano Madriaga with Msgr. Leon V. Bitanga who succeeded Msgr. Evarito Soriano as parish priest in 1969 persisted and continued the construction of the church. In 1972, Msgr. Federico G. Limon, DD succeeded Archbishop Madriaga as Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan.
On 26-27 December 1974, the St. John the Evangelist Church was inaugurated.
The Old Cathedral Church on Zamora Street
The church on Zamora Street was built in 1713. It was destroyed by a fire but subsequently rebuilt in 1892.
When the church along Burgos St. was built in 1974, the old Cathedral church was abandoned in favor of the bigger church.
The big earthquake of 1990 severely destroyed the old church. When Msgr. Oscar V. Cruz, DD, became the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, succeeding Msgr. Federico Limon, SVD, DD, in 1991, he took the initial steps in renovating the destroyed church. In 1992, the restoration and renovation work started. On 10 February 2001, a simple ceremony of Re-Dedication of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was presided over by Msgr. Oscar V Cruz, DD.
Dedication of 1974 and the formal transfer on 27 December 2010
The new and bigger St. John the Evangelist Church along Burgos St. was consecrated as Cathedral of the Metropolitan See of Lingayen-Dagupan by Msgr. Bruno Torpigliani in 1974. However, the Holy See failed to receive and confirm the act of Msgr. Torpigliani. Thirty-six years after the dedication of Msgr. Bruno Torpigliani, Msgr. Socrates B. Villegas, DD, formally petitioned the Holy See that it recognize the church along Burgos St. as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Lingayen-Dagupan.
The formal transfer of the Seat of the Metropolitan Archbishop will be celebrated on 27 December 2010. It will be presided by Msgr. Edward Joseph Adams, the Papal Nuncio.