A Filipino priest has been elected the new global leader of the Dominican mission, the first Asian to hold the post.
Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III has been elected master of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order. He will hold the position for nine years.
His election came during the ongoing General Chapter of the religious order in Biên Hoà, Vietnam, the first ever meeting of the order’s priors provincial in a non-Christian country.
Echoing the call of Pope Francis, the new head of the worldwide Dominican order hopes for a genuinely outward-looking church, less turned in on itself.
In what amounts to a marching order, Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III urged his fellow Dominicans to help the Church become a stronger communion.
“We are invited to really look not at ourselves but at the Church that we are supposed to serve and to build,” he said in his first address as the Master of the Order over the weekend.
The pope has repeatedly decried a church that is inward-looking and self-referential.
At one point of his address, he reminded his fellow Dominicans of their identity as preachers of the Gospel.
He stressed that in order to serve and build the Church, there is a need for the new evangelization and a “powerful preaching” of St. Dominic today.
“Mission is not what we do, mission is who we are. And if that is very clear then everything will just follow. Actions follow being… Everything will follow,” Fr. Timoner said.
“All the elements that make us preachers, Dominicans, should always be present in everything that we do,” he added.
Fr. Timoner was previously socius or assistant for Asia and the Pacific of the outgoing master, the Frenchman Bruno Caderè, and head of the Filipino Dominicans.
In 2014, Pope Francis appointed him a member of the International Theological Commission, a 30-member Vatican body tasked to examine questions on doctrinal matters.
Fr. Timoner was born on Jan. 26, 1968 and is a native of Daet in Camarines Norte.
After obtaining his philosophy degree from the Philippine Dominican Center of International Studies and his theology from UST, he was ordained a priest in 1995.
In 2004, he finished his licentiate in sacred theology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
The priest also served as vice rector for religious affairs and rector of the UST Central Seminary from 2007 to 2012.