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July 15, 2019, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Pampanga region of the Philippines, expressed great joy at the July 13, 2019, election of Father Gerard Francisco Timoner, OP, as the next Master of the Dominican Order. He was elected during the Dominican Friars’ July 7-August 4, 2019, General Chapter, held in Biên Hoà, Vietnam.
“It’s a wonderful surprise that the Brothers elected an Asian and a Filipino at the same time,” said Sister Liberty “Libay” Mendoza, OP. “I think his election brings along the challenges of how Asian, Filipino Dominicans can share further, more substantially in the work of evangelization. … I guess it is the same call for the rest of us Filipino Dominicans, to be gifts to the world by making use of the gifts of who we are and what we can do for Jesus’ mission.”
Chapters are the meetings in which Catholic religious congregations set the agenda for the coming years and elect leadership to carry out that agenda.
Father Gerard, 51, will serve a nine-year term as Master of the Dominican Order, leading about 6,000 Dominican Friars in 80 countries. In addition, he will serve as head of the entire worldwide Dominican family, which encompasses cloistered nuns; active, apostolic Sisters; Dominican Laity associated formally with the Friars; lay Associates of the Congregations of Dominican Sisters; and Dominican movements such as Dominican Young Adults. He succeeds Father Bruno Cadoré, OP, of France.
“He has always been like a big brother to us,” Sister Libay said. She recalled the annual retreat that Father Gerard directed for the Sisters years ago as “one of the most relaxing retreats we ever had. He is quite down to Earth. He has a very good sense of humor, and during sessions he just loved telling stories.”
Sister Libay also recalled Father Gerard’s generosity in treating the Sisters to ice cream and his humility during the retreat he led. “One time he tried joining the Sisters doing the dishes,” she said. “One would not feel intimidated when he was around.”
Father Gerard – known affectionately by the Sisters of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter as “Father Gert” – was in religious formation with Sister May Cano, OP. The two were novices together, engaging in common studies of Dominican life and spirituality, and they served together in the formation of other Dominicans. “He was very simple, kind, brilliant, with deep reflections – a down to earth, intelligent, joyful Friar like St. Dominic,” Sister May recalled. In addition, he is “well versed in the Bible and full of wisdom.”
Born on January 26, 1968, in Daet, of the Camarines Norte province of the Philippines, Father Gerard studied philosophy at the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies in Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City, in 1991 and earned his theology degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1994. Father Gerard later served the University as Vice Rector for Religious Affairs and as Rector of the central seminary.
Ordained in 1995, he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands in 2004.
Through the years, Father Gerard has served both the Dominican family and the Catholic Church: as Provincial in the Philippines; as Father Bruno’s assistant for Asia and the Pacific; and as a member of the Church’s International Theological Commission, appointed by Pope Francis in 2014.
After his election, Father Gerard issued a challenge to the Dominican family, quoted in an article in Good News Pilipanas.com: “We Dominicans must serve the Church with what we are: a communion of brothers,” he said. “We must not look continually at ourselves, but at the Church, which we must help to save and build.”
Father Gerard with the Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter after their annual retreat in 2012. Father Gerard led the retreat.
March 15, 2019, Manila, Philippines – Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter were among 179 participants in the 2019 gathering of the Dominican Sisters International-Philippines (DSI-P) meeting in February at the University of Santo Thomas Seminary. The Adrian Dominican Sisters were one of 15 Congregations of Dominican Sisters that participated in the event.
The theme of the Day of Recollection was “Dominican Style of Holiness: A Glimpse to the Genius of a Woman.” Father Rolando de La Rosa, OP, guided the Sisters in their reflection, focusing on the Beatitudes as the sure way to holiness.
In his introduction, Father de La Rosa reminded the Sisters of the current state of the world: suffering, violence, and leaders who attempt to solve problems like illegal drugs with more violence. Consumerism and materialism drive people to work hard to get what they want. Father de La Rosa noted that this materialism is creeping into the lives of religious, as evidenced by convents filled with consumeristic goods.
Religious are so active that they become less attractive, Father de La Rosa said, encouraging the Sisters to lead an orderly life and to align their lives with the will of God, as guided by the Beatitudes.
Father de La Rosa interpreted the Beatitudes in these ways:
Father Jeffry Aytona, Director of the Dominican Networks for the Youth, spoke to the Sisters on how they can influence the youth in their ministry to become partners in the mission. He called to mind the message of Pope John Paul II on his second visit to the Philippines during the 1995 World Youth Day. “The Dominican commitment is to educate, to catechize the youth. The youth are not only seeking knowledge to fill their minds but formation in the faith to strengthen their soul.”
Father Aytona attributed the vocation crisis to the lack of pastoral programs for the young in schools. He challenged schools to give youth not only academic formation but most of all value formation, which can be manifested in their desire to follow Christ and participate in the mission of the Church.
The representatives of DOMNET Youth expressed the needs of youth today: proper guidance and wisdom from elderly, not from the Internet. Generally the youth of today are connected with the whole world through the Internet, but they still feel left out and in the end they are not happy. They need to experience the care and guidance of true mentors, not virtual mentors.
“The young people must be empowered with veritas (truth),” Father Aytona said. “We religious should be role models to the youth, who are witnesses to the joy of the Gospel.”
A highlight of the Day of Recollection was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided over by Father Quirico Pedregosa, OP, Rector of University of Santo Thomas Central Seminary.
Feature photo (top): Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, participates in the closing Liturgy of the Day of Reflection for Dominican Sisters International-Philippines.
Sister Myra Dalisay, OP, participates in an ice breaker with Dominican Sisters from other congregations.