TWO RANKING Dominicans are switching places.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., rector of the UST Central Seminary, is the new head of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, replacing Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, Jr., O.P., who is expected to become the next seminary rector.

Timoner, who now serves as vice chancellor of UST by virtue of his post as Filipino prior provincial, vowed to keep members of the order “right on track and focused” in fulfilling the Dominican mission.

He was elected as the 10th Prior Provincial by 24 delegates from 14 convents during the provincial chapter at the UST Retreat Center in Baguio last April 19. The chapter is held every four years.

Timoner, who resides at the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas in UST, is the second prior provincial in history elected to the position even if he was not an official delegate, after Pedregosa in 2008.

“Theoretically, any Dominican in the world may be elected,” he said. “The celebration of the chapter is a moment of renewal and a moment for the brothers to reassess and determine as a community where the province is ought to be going,” Timoner told the Varsitarian.

Timoner was installed as provincial last April 30 at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan. The ceremony was led by Fr. Stephen Redillas, O.P., prior of the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.

As prior provincial, Timoner leads some 195 members of the Order under the Philippine Province, which split from the Spanish missionary province of the Holy Rosary in 1971.

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According to the UST General Statutes, the vice chancellor “substitutes for the Chancellor in the latter’s absence” and is an ex-officio member of the University’s Board of Trustees.

The new vice chancellor urged Thomasians to uphold Christian values and cooperate generously in religious activities.

“I hope that Thomasians, as they graduate, will continue to do the same thing in [the] respective local churches and communities where [they] belong,” Timoner said. “Be mindful that ministry is like any public activity, [which is] for the sake of building the Church for the realization of God’s kingdom of love and peace on earth.”

Timoner, who was named 11th head of the UST Central Seminary in 2006, had been UST vice rector for religious affairs, member of the board of trustees, and acting regent of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies in 1991, and his bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology from UST in 1994. He was ordained priest in 1995.

Timoner obtained his licentiate in sacred theology and masteral in intercultural theology from the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen in the Netherlands in 2004.

Still a plan

Pedregosa, who ended a tumultuous third term as the top Filipino Dominican last month, is being eyed as the next rector of the country’ premiere seminary-college.

Pedregosa told the Varsitarian his transfer to the central seminary was “only a plan and not yet official.”

“We are waiting for the new rector of UST to be appointed … after that … the new rector of UST can start the process to appoint the new rector of the seminary,” he said.

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Pedregosa took over the province in 2008 following a bitter dispute over a P3-billion project to expand UST Hospital. He was previously based in Rome as assistant to the Master of the Order of Preachers for Asia and the Pacific. Prior to that, he served two terms as Filipino Dominican provincial from 1992-2000.

Pedregosa accompanied the then Master of the Order of Preachers and UST chancellor, Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa to the Philippines in September 2007 for a canonical visit, during which the latter declared as illegal under Canon Law the spinoff of the hospital into a separate corporation. The project was cancelled.

This led to the resignations of UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., Vice Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P., and Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P. as prior provincial and UST vice chancellor.

Pedregosa had served as chairman of the board of trustees of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila and Calamba, Laguna; Aquinas University in Albay; Angelicum College in Quezon City and Iloilo; and Our Lady of Manaoag College in Pangasinan.

He finished his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies in 1978. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and masteral in theology in 1979 and 2003, respectively. He received a doctorate in Humanities, honoris causa from St. Paul’s University in Tuguegarao City in 2001.

Pedregosa was ordained to the priesthood in 1981. R. L. Antonio

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