Bicolano elected first Filipino head of Dominican Order

Paterno Esmaquel II
Bicolano elected first Filipino head of Dominican Order
Father Gerard Francisco Timoner III of Daet, Camarines Norte, is the first Asian head of the Order of Preachers worldwide

MANILA, Philippines – A Bicolano priest who served as vice chancellor of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is now head of the global Dominican Order.

Father Gerard Francisco Timoner III has been elected the first Filipino and first Asian head of the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans. His term will last for 9 years.

The Dominican Order is one of the biggest institutions of Catholic priests around the world.

The Dominicans run UST, the oldest existing university in Asia and one of the most prestigious in the Philippines.

 The news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines confirmed Timoner’s election on Saturday, July 13.

Timoner was elected during a meeting of the Dominicans in Vietnam.

He was previously an assistant of the outgoing Dominican master, Frenchman Bruno Caderè. He was also head of the Dominicans in the Philippines.

Born on January 26, 1968, Timoner is a native of Daet, Camarines Norte.

In 2014, Pope Francis appointed Timoner as the 4th Filipino member of the International Theological Commission, whose former Filipino members include the great Jesuit theologian Catalino Arevalo and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. 

Timoner spoke to Rappler in 2014 after his appointment to the International Theological Commission.

Speaking to Rappler, Timoner said his Filipino context will help in his new assignment.

Timoner explained the the Philippines, “really occupies a very important place” in Asian Catholicism. “In terms of a Catholic tradition, we have a very strong one, and a very Christian one.”

The Dominican told Rappler: “It’s not what I bring personally, but it’s what I bring as a representative. In other words, whatever it is that I will bring there is not personal, it’s not mine, but it’s really a product of I being a part of this community of faith, number one, of the Philippine Church. And number two, as a member of this community of theologians.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.