In celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Order’s foundation, the UST Center for Religious Studies and Ethics (CRSE) and UST Faculty of Sacred Theology (FST), in collaboration with the Office for Grants, Endowments and Partnerships in Higher Education (OGEP) and the UST Theological Society, held a three-day Conference from February 9-11, 2016. The Conference bore the theme BUILDING THE CHURCH THE DOMINICAN WAY. It was part of the Research Fortnight activity of the University’s Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation (OVRRI), and it took the place of the bi-annual Theology Week Conference of the FST. The Conference conveners were Fr. Jannel N. Abogado, OP (Director of CRSE) and Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, OP, PhD, SThD (Dean of the FST).

The Conference featured ten (10) lectures, which were all intended as explorations on the valuable contributions to the Church of particular Dominicans, especially those who worked in the local Church of the Philippines. The Keynote lecture was delivered by Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner, III, OP, the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, and current member of the International Theological Commission. It was followed by a lecture on the “Dominicans and Marian Devotion” delivered by Fr. Roland Mactal, OP, Prior of Santo Domingo Convent and Associate Professor of UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. The lecture traced the beginnings of Marian devotion and the role of the Dominicans in the spread of this devotion. Fr. Mactal also spoke of the Marian shrines run by the Dominicans in the Philippines and their roles in the promotion of current-day devotions to the Blessed Virgin.

The lectures of the second day began with the presentation of Fr. Emilio Platti, OP, the Italian-Belgian Dominican who also works at the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies in Cairo, Egypt. He is also a Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Fr. Platti traced the historical evolution of Islam, and its relationship with Christianity. He admitted that ‘dialogue with Islam’ was never easy, but this is no reason to abandon the efforts for peaceful and harmonious collaboration. During the open forum, Fr. Platti pointed out that Islam needs to resolve a particular crisis of identity that has also been responsible for the emergence of many extremist groups nowadays.

The next lectures were delivered by Fr. José Antonio E. Aureada, OP and Assoc. Prof. Augusto de Viana, PhD. Fr. Aureada talked about the contribution of Fr. Francisco Marin Sola, OP (which he also called as Pare Quicoy) who earned his Theology degrees from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila and taught at the Catholic University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Fr. Aureada’s talk was followed by the presentation of Assoc. Prof. de Viana, Chair of the UST Department of History, who focused his lecture on the contributions of Fr. Fidel Villaroel, OP as a Dominican historian, and a prolific ‘saint-maker.’

The afternoon lectures of the second day were delivered by Fr. Virgilio Ojoy, OP, Associate Professor of dogmatic theology at FST, and Fr. Rodel E. Aligan, OP, former Dean and current Associate Professor of the same faculty. Fr. Ojoy talked about the contributions of Fr. Pedro Salgado, OP in the area of social justice, while Fr. Aligan spoke about the significant efforts of Most Rev. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P., D.D. in the area of Ecclesiology.

The last day featured three more lectures. It started with the talk of Fr. Michael Sherwin, OP, professor of Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, who spoke about the works of Fr. Servais-Theodore Pinckaers, OP in the renewal of moral theology. He was followed by Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., who shared about the importance of preaching in the ministry of the Dominicans. Fr. de la Rosa’s lecture challenged the Dominicans, and the participants, to become better preachers. He also laid down helpful principles that will help preachers develop and improve on their craft. The last lecture was delivered by Fr. Quirico T. Pedregosa, OP, present Rector of UST Central Seminary and former Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. Fr. Pedregosa talked about the “missionary impulse of preaching to the peripheries.” He ended his lecture with a moving narration of the lives and ministry of two Dominicans: Fr. Anthony Leo Hofstee, OP (who spent his life with the lepers of Tala Leprosarium, Philippines) and Bishop Pierre Claverie, OP (who offered his life for the poor people of Oran, Algeria). These Dominicans, Fr. Pedregosa emphasized, lived the ‘path of downward mobility’ exemplified by Christ in the Gospels.

Building the Church the Dominican Way is an invitation for the members of the Church, the Dominicans in particular, to live the vocation of Christians according to their specific charism and circumstances. The Conference participants were composed of priests, religious sisters, Dominican laity, catechists, theology teachers, and members of the laity who sought to learn more about their potentials contributions to the Church they love. The lectures of this conference will be published in the Philippiniana Sacra, an academic journal of the University of Santo Tomas that is also currently celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.