Last June 12, 2015 (Friday), on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic in the Philippines welcomed for the first time two bishops into the community: Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, and San Fernando, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, DD.
In his message to the Dominican community, the Very Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, said that the bishops, on the eve of the 800th founding anniversary of the Order, saw in the Order “a spirituality that can enrich and nourish their priestly, even episcopal ministry.” On this note, Fr. Timoner challenged the Dominican family to “live more faithfully to our vowed life and to share generously the vocation we cherish.”
The two bishops were clothed with the habit of the Order, accepted as novices, in solemn rites at the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.
Archbishop Villegas is an alumnus of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Manila, where he finished his high school education. In his message, he acknowledged his two Dominican idols: the late Most Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., DD, the first Filipino Rector of the University, and Rev. Fr. Pompeyo F. de Mesa, O.P., former Rector of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Manila and present Regent of the UST Faculty of Pharmacy. Meanwhile, Bishop Beltran is an alumnus of UST’s Faculty of Sacred Theology, where he finished his Bachelor’s (1975) and Licentiate (1977) degrees in Sacred Theology.