On July 13, 2019, the Order of Preachers welcomed the 87th successor of St. Dominic de Guzman, in the person of Father Gerard Francisco Parco Timoner III, OP, a member of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and first Asian Master of the Order. The election took place during the Elective General Chapter of the men's branch of the Dominican Family held in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. This was the first General Chapter for the Dominican men held in Asia.
In a message to the community gathered in Vietnam, the new Master of Order confessed to an initial resistance to the election. Had it not been for the prayers and the encouragement of the brothers, he said, "The answer would have been ‘no.’”
Recalling the words of Father Vivian Boland, OP, assist to the Master for North West Europe and Canada, Father Gerard said “We have prayed for the Holy Spirit. We must trust the brothers.”
Recognizing the challenges of the modern times, Father Gerard said that these seem again to be a time “when the Church needs a Francis and a Dominic. There is a need for a new evangelization, and we are all called to do precisely that.” He said our response to this need requires the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, to revisit its mission.
“‘We are preachers [said St. Dominic].’ It is not what we do. It is who we are. Mission is not what we do. It is who we are. And if that is clear, everything will just follow. We are preachers even when we are not preaching. We are preachers even if in our old age, we can no longer speak. We are preachers even if we are not ordained. We are preachers even if we are sick. We are preachers even if we are doing serious research alone in our rooms. We are preachers when we are helping the less privileged. We are preachers. That is our identity.”
The new Master of the Order, who follows French Dominican Bruno Cadoré, in that role, called on the Dominican family to be in communion and to talk with one another, to overcome differences, and agree. “Once we have agreed, I think that is my job, to be the first among brothers to say ‘We should do what we have set to do.’”
Father Gerard hails from Camarines Norte Province, Luzon. He has recently served as assistant to the Master for Asia-Pacific and previously was prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. His formal assignment in the Province is in the Priory of Saint Thomas Aquinas in UST, where was once the Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs and Rector of the Central (Interdiocesan) Seminary. In 2014, Father Gerard was named a member of the International Theological Commission by Pope Francis for a term that ends this year.
The Dominican Sisters of Springfield have been part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers, since 1873. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have preached the Gospel in word and deed. Today, thousands of Dominican sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world.