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.
November 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Go to the peripheries, wherever that is. Be in the peripheries, whether in an institution or on mission and offer loving accompaniment to those you find there.
That was the message that Father Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Dominican Order, sent to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers assembled in St. Catherine Chapel on November 26 – and those who were watching through broadcast or live stream.
But that message of challenge – as well as support, encouragement, and affection – was conveyed on Father Bruno’s behalf by Father Christopher Eggleton, OP, Socius for the United States. Father Bruno’s plans to visit the Adrian Dominican Sisters were changed abruptly when he was prevented from entering the United States.
Father Bruno was represented by Father Chris, a member of the St. Martin de Porres (Southern) Province, and Father Louis Morrone, Vice Provincial of the St. Albert the Great (Central) Province.
“Friar Bruno is very much in love with what he does because he’s very much in love with his Dominican life, with God, and with his sisters and brothers in the Dominican family,” Father Chris said. “He is one who will not exclude anyone and he feels that at the heart of our spirituality as Dominican women and men is that no one should be excluded. … He is absolutely convinced that each person is part of the Body of Christ and that the Body of Christ must be respected and loved and pulled into the community.”
Father Chris emphasized the need for unity among all members of the Dominican family: friars, nuns, sisters, laity, and associates. “We remember always that we are sisters and brothers in Christ and St. Dominic and St. Catherine and the living saints in Dominic, as is our call,” he said. As a united family, he encouraged he Sisters to “go to the peripheries,” to evangelize all people who are on the margins or in some way left out of the care of society.
“I tell you now on Father Bruno’s behalf that he loves you – we love you,” Father Chris told the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. He added that Father Bruno is appreciative of the many decades that Adrian Dominicans have been serving people on the peripheries.
In his homily during the Mass that followed his talk, Father Chris continued with the theme of ministering at the periphery and finding mission wherever you are. He told the story of a young man, Jonathan, who he had met on Death Row for murdering two young men. Through the presence of Father Chris, a Franciscan chaplain, and a chapter of Dominican Laity who served at the prison in Texas, Jonathan converted to Catholicism and became a member of the Dominican Laity. He began counseling other prisoners, listening to them, and accompanying them to their executions.
For the next 10 years – until his own execution on October 7, 1998 – Jonathan “evangelized where few could enter,” Father Chris said. “He knew that he had a mission, and his mission was right there in that periphery, in that place, at that time. He was fired up with the Holy Trinity, with the Blessed Mother, and with his brothers and sisters on death row.”
Father Chris encouraged Sisters and Associates to notice the good in their ministries. “Wherever you are, in whatever periphery you’re missioned, let us notice the good that is there, the hope people offer, and the hope that we offer, united as one in Jesus Christ, in his Blessed Mother, and in our St. Dominic, St. Catherine, and the cavalcade of saints transformed into great preachers.”
Founded in 1206 by St. Dominic de Guzman, the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) minister throughout the world, on every continent except Antarctica. The Dominican family includes Friars; cloistered Nuns; apostolic Sisters; Dominican Laity, who are associated with the Friars; Associates, who are connected to individual Congregations of Dominican Sisters; and special groups such as Dominican Young Adults, Dominican Volunteers; Dominican High School Preachers; and Dominican College Preachers.
For information on becoming a vowed Adrian Dominican Sister, contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, 517-266-266-3532 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, 517-266-3537 or email@example.com. For information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo: Father Christopher Eggleton, OP, Socius for the United States, speaks to Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers on behalf of Father Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Order.
From left, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, and Sister Elise García, OP, General Councilors; Father Louis Morrone, OP; Father Chris Eggleton, OP; Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor.