Newly-elected Master of the Order of Preachers and University of Santo Tomas Chancellor Very Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, O.P., presided over the Eucharistic Celebration in honor of the Founder of the Order of Preachers. Concelebrated with the Dominican Fathers, the Mass was held on August 7, the eve of the Feast Day of St. Dominic de Guzman, at the Santísimo Rosario Parish Church (UST Chapel) and was attended by the Thomasian community.

 

Fr. Timoner expressed his enthusiasm at presiding over the annual St. Dominic Mass, because “I want to give thanks to my alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, who helped prepare me for the ministries entrusted to me all these years.”

The 88th Master of the Order, who obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the University in 1994, hoped that “UST is glad to count me as one of its sons,” and asked the Thomasian community to “pray for me in this ministry of being Dominic to the Order.” He is the second UST professor to become Master of the Order, the first being the martyr Blessed Buenaventura García Paredes, O.P.

Fr. Timoner credited Very Rev. Fr. Bruno Cadoré, O.P., the immediately preceding Master, with giving him advice. “He told me, ’Just continue to be Brother Gerard, but remember your ministry is to be Dominic.’ Another important advice he gave me was: ‘You must learn how to adjust your happiness.’”

On the ministry of preaching, Fr. Timoner reminded the faithful that when Jesus sent his disciples in pairs to preach the Good News, he told his followers to travel “lightly and hastily,” without bags or sandals, and to shake the dust off their feet if they are rejected. He explained that “While a sandal or a tunic or bag symbolize the good things we have to carry, the dust on our feet symbolizes the negative and toxic memories we should not carry, yet we could not easily shake off from our lives.” 

 “If all Christians are to become effective bearers of the Good News, then we must take care that no bad news, no toxic memory will ever contaminate the goodness of the Gospel.”

The Master cited Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), saying “’We can only preach the Gospel convincingly if we do so joyously.’ Saint Dominic was called a man of the Gospel who preached convincingly because according to those who lived with him, he was a joyful friar.”

To “shake the dust from our feet” or to do away with toxic baggage that can weaken the joy of sharing the Good News, Fr. Timoner advised “The best way to heal is through reconciliation.” 

Fr. Timoner explained, “The Eucharist shows us that to forgive is precisely not about forgetting but it is about remembering in a different way. [When Jesus said] ‘Do this in memory of me,’ Jesus was not asking us to forget that night in which He was betrayed. He was asking us to remember in a different way. The pain of betrayal and the violence of the Cross are not forgotten, but remembered in a different way. A wise Dominican said: ‘Forgiveness is not forgetting Good Friday. It is the Father raising the Son on Easter Sunday.’”

“[During the Last Supper] Jesus took it upon Himself to cleanse [the Apostles’] feet of all this dust. Yes, it was an act of humility and hospitality, but it was also a gesture that prepared the Apostles to proclaim the Good News uncontaminated by any dust. When we find it utterly difficult to forgive, to be reconciled, or to let go of a painful memory, we ask Jesus to wash our feet as well: ‘Lord, wash my feet. Cleanse me of all the dust that have accumulated through the years,’” said the new successor of St. Dominic.

A procession of the image of St. Dominic inside the campus followed the Mass. It was led by UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P., and attended by the members of the Thomasian community and parishioners.