On February 2, 2021, the new Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, Very Rev. fr. Filemon I. Dela Cruz, Jr., O.P., SThL, was formally installed, in a Eucharistic Celebration at Santo Domingo Church.
In the celebration officiated by the immediate past Prior Provincial, Rev. fr. Napoleon B. Sipalay, Jr., O.P., designated representative of the Province, the 12th Provincial Chapter was likewise concluded.
No dampening of the spirit
Reflecting on the experience of the Chapter, held in a “bubble” in Caleruega, Batangas, fr. dela Cruz said that, “the bubble also gave something positive. Even though we are distant, we are together. Even on weekends, nobody goes home. The pandemic did not dampen the spirit of the Chapter. In the realm of the spirit, there is more to consider than the pandemic.”
Though the pandemic upended the way of life for many people in the past year and as it rages on this year, fr. dela Cruz said that there was still cause for joy in 2021. After all, 2021 marks the 800th death anniversary of St. Dominic de Guzman, the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, and the 50th anniversary of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. “800, 500, 50. These are numbers that tell us how God has helped us and saw us through the years. When we are disheartened, it is good to remember the God who has journeyed with us through these 800, 500, and 50 years–full of trials, challenges, and problems but never wanting of God’s graces and blessings,” the new Prior Provincial said.
Even the chapter, which began on January 6, 2021 and formally ended on February 2nd, was marked by special occasions: the January 6 opening of the 800th-year celebration of St. Dominic’s birth in heaven and the February 2 World Day of Consecrated Life.
Remembering the value of being consecrated
Addressing the brethren and the consecrated men and women, fr. Dela Cruz said that “no matter how good our expressions in the Acta, it is not enough if we don’t take back Jesus into our arms.” He said that the gift of consecration requires the brethren to “go beyond the Province. Think of the family, which has been the support in all we do.”
To do, fr. dela Cruz underscored the importance of gratitude, which looks at the past—despite its struggles, problems, and hardships—and allows us to still “cherish hope and light.”
Apart from gratitude, the new Prior Provincial also expressed his prayer for the Province as it walks down the path toward its sixth decade: “This is my prayer for the province—to grow in wisdom, learn from mistakes of the past.”
The new Prior Provincial was a longtime former Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs in UST. Prior to his election, he was assigned in the House of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs in Navotas and was Prior of the Rumah Santo Tomas de Aquino in Surabaya, Indonesia. With his election, fr. dela Cruz will serve for the next four years.