The Diocese of Laoag was created on June 5, 1961 and was erected on July 26 of the same year. It comprises the civil
province of Ilocos Norte and its capital, the city of Laoag. For its titular patron it has chosen Saint William the Hermit, and for its secondary patron La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, Cause of Our Joy.
Ilocos Norte is the northernmost edge of the island of Luzon, bounded on the north by the Babuyan Channel, the province of Ilocos Sur on the south, the China Sea on the west, and
Kalinga-Apayao and Abra on the east. The social, economic and cultural life of the people of Ilocos Norte has been profoundly affected by the physiography and climate of the land. The terrain is
rugged and rocky and there is not much land for agriculture. The climate is characterized by extremes—very dry from December to April, and extremely wet for the rest of the year.
Many Ilocanos have found their land of 3,399 square kilometers so lacking in potential that many have migrated to other parts of the country and the world. Ilocos
Norte has been a constant source of migrant labor for the fruit and sugar plantations in the United States since the early 1920's.
Rice was always the main crop but production was never sufficient. And efforts to shift to cotton production, which flourished during the Spanish times, never really succeeded.
In recent years there has been crop but production was never sufficient. And efforts to shift to cotton production, which flourished during the Spanish times, never really succeeded.
In recent years there has been a shift to the production of Virginia Leaf tobacco, and this has done much to improve the economic situation of the province. With
government subsidy, Virginia tobacco became the most profitable crop. And Laoag as well as Batac, Dingras, Paoay and Bacarra became the leading producers of Virginia tobacco.
The history of Ilocos Norte has always been linked closely with that of Ilocos Sur, as the Ilocoses were just one province until they were officially separated in 1818.
The Diocese of Laoag was in fact carved out of Nueva Segovia, so its history has also been linked to the Diocese of Nueva Segovia since the sixteenth century, as
the territorial jurisdiction of that diocese extended over all the provinces of northern Luzon.
On January 31, 1979, the Most Reverend Edmundo M. Abaya was installed as
Third Residential Bishop of Laoag. The Diocese of Laoag held its First Pastoral Assembly on May 15-21, 1994, attended by 231 delegates: 35 priests, 16 religious
sisters, 1 religious brother, 117 lay women and 62 laymen representing the 22 parishes that comprise the diocese, and other sectoral groups. The assembly
formulated 160 resolutions which were approved and promulgated by Bishop Abaya on December 8, 1994 at the shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.
All parishes in the diocese are now strengthening their Barangay Pastoral Councils through leadership seminars. These councils assist in the registration of families in
preparation for a tithing program in the future. The establishment of Basic Ecclesial Communities, although some of these are already operational in various parishes, is
now a major pre-occupation of the parish priests and pastoral councils. The empowerment of the laity is another main concern, as is the reaching out to the poor who are sick, through the San Lorenzo Ruiz Charity Clinic.
The Laoag Diocese Multi-Purpose Cooperatives aims to help needy parishioners in their economic needs. And the radio station of the diocese, DZEA, is being
maximized to reach as many people as possible across mountains and rivers. In its concern for priests, the diocese is at present constructing a retirement house for
the clergy, to accommodate the aged, sick and disabled priests of the diocese.