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.
By Sister Leizel V. Tedria, OP
March 4, 2019, San Fernando, Philippines – Sister Leizel V. Tedria, OP, professed her First Vows on February 23, 2019, during Mass in the Virgin de los Remedios Repository Chapel at the chancery of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, the Philippines. A native of Camarines Sur of Bicol Region, in the southern part of the northern island of Luzon, Sister Leizel holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Our Lady of Fatima University in Pampanga, the Philippines. She was received into the novitiate on December 3, 2016, and currently ministers in the Diocese of San Jose Nueva Ecija. Watch a video of Sister Leizel’s profession here.
This is Sister Leizel’s reflection on her First Profession.
Last February 23, 2019, on the Memorial of St. Polycarp, inside the Repository Chapel of Virgin de los Remedios, I took my First Profession of Vows. The main celebrant of the Mass was the Most Reverend Florentino G. Lavarias, and concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Paciano B. Ancieto and Father Herwyn T. Bulaun. What added to my happiness that day was the presence of my family – my parents and my three sisters.
I felt like I was dreaming as I walked toward the altar before Mass with my parents at my side, and the Sisters, priests, and altar servers behind us. Celebrating with us were some of my closest friends, Leony, Aizalonica, and Rowena; two aspirants, Raychelle and Princess; and our partners in mission, the Dominican Laity of San Fernando and Mabalacat Chapters.
Giving my “yes” to our Mother Church through our Congregation was possible because of God’s help and the many people who have been part of my journey. I especially extend my gratitude to the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and to Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, who approved my application upon the recommendation of my Chapter Prioress, Sister Rosita M. Yaya, OP. Thank you, Sisters, for journeying with me all these four years. I extend my deepest appreciation to my former formators: Sisters Marissa Figueroa, OP, Rosita Yaya, OP, Amelia Sarmiento, OP, Maria May Cano, OP, and Antonette Lumbang, OP.
While I do not forget that I am still a human, and that profession of vows does not make me an instantly holy person, I thank God for this, another transfiguration event in my journey. God takes the initiative and it is through His grace that I responded out of faith and love, and through the faith, mercy, and loving support shown by my family, friends, and the Sisters in the Congregation.
My vocation has no meaning at all if it is not for Jesus reflected in the presence of the people whom I serve. It is my hope that as I continue to develop an intimate relationship with our beloved Jesus through community and ministry as a professed Sister, I will also keep moving forward in my faith and active charity for the community and the Church. I must not forget to welcome the ordinariness and realities of daily life with God’s people.