The province of Lanao del Norte, of which Iligan is the capital, lies in the northern part of Mindanao, where the Zamboanga Peninsula joins
with the mainland of Mindanao between Yllana and Iligan Bays.
The two Lanaos formed just one province before, and as such was home to the Maranaos, a native tribe of the region, a fierce and proud people who
resisted colonization by the Spaniards and later by the Americans. The old province of Lanao was never really subjugated. The Maranaos
continued to wage their bloody wars of resistance. Fortresses Iligan today are mute relics of those bloody encounters. In 1913 they were finally subdued by the Americans. In 1914 the province of Lanao was formally organized.
With new stability in the region, migrants from islands north of Mindanao poured in the northern part of the province. Because of the large numbers of Christian migrants that settled there, as Muslims also
settled in the south, the division of Lanao into two provinces was deemed necessary. This division finally took place in 1959, and since then Lanao del Norte has become more Christian, while Lanao del Sur has
become more Muslim.
Iligan City today is a boom town, with more migrants coming in. Recent years have seen a sprouting of stores, streets and schools. This growth is attributed to the power generated by
the Agus River which begins at Lake Lanao, traverses Lanao del Norte, and provides electric power for the province. Heavy-powered industries have made Iligan their home base, industries such as steel plants,
fertilizer plants, ferro-alloy plants, flour mills and cement plants.
Ecclesiastically, all of Mindanao and Sulu came under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cebu during the Spanish era. When the Diocese of
Zamboanga was created in 1910, it had jurisdiction over the whole of Mindanao. In 1933 the Diocese of Cagayan de Oro was separated from that of Zamboanga and got jurisdiction over Surigao, both Misamises,
Bukidnon, and part of the old Lanao, presumably the northern part nearer to it. In 1971, Iligan became a prelature nullius and suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.
The Prelature of Iligan was
created on February 17, 1971, with the late Bishop Bienvenido S. Tudtud as the first Prelate Ordinary. In November of 1982, Iligan was elevated to a diocese, suffragan first to the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
and later to the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. Bishop Fernando R. Capalla was named first Bishop of the Diocese of Iligan. This year, 1995, Monsignor Emilio L. Bataclan became the second bishop of the diocese.
For the church in Iligan it has been a slow process of development considering the existing situation of Christians and Muslims co-existing in the area. In its first stage of development, the church in Iligan was
more concerned with a genuine dialogue between the faiths.
The second stage was the establishment of Basic Ecclesial Communities to bring evangelization down to grass roots level, in line with the spirit behind the
Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II).
As the Diocese of Iligan celebrates its 25th anniversary in 1996, a diocesan pastoral conference is being planned to coincide with the festivities. New
strategies and methods will be worked out and defined to answer new social, economic and religious issues facing the diocese at the present time.
There are now 18 parishes in the diocese, served by 24 diocesan and 11
religious priests, assisted by 4 religious brothers and 54 religious sisters. The diocese covers a land area of 3,092 square kilometers with a population of 625,548 of which 78 per cent are Catholics.
Diocese of Iligan comprises Iligan City and part of the province of Lanao del Norte. Its titular patron is St. Michael, the Archangel whose feast is celebrated September 29.
Among its Catholic institutions are a
major seminar, 12 kindergarten schools, 6 elementary schools, 13 high schools and 1 college.
Among its private associations are the Knights of Columbus, Couples for Christ, Apostleship of Prayer, Christian Family
Movement, Catholic Women's League, and the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen of the Philippines.