FILIPINO Dominicans are now officially in charge of Asia’s oldest and only Pontifical University, after more than four centuries under Spanish Dominicans and the head of the Dominican Order in Rome.

Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. announced last Aug. 7 during the Mass for the Feast of St. Dominic de Guzman that the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education had issued a decree, dated May 31, approving the revised General Statutes of the University, which allowed the transfer of jurisdiction.

Article 3 of new General Statutes, a copy of which was obtained by the Varsitarian, states that the University is governed by the following: norms laid down by the Holy See, pertinent laws of the Republic of the Philippines, the General Statutes of the University, Ordinances of the Chancellor, resolutions of the UST Board of Trustees, regulations of the Rector promulgated in accordance with the General Statutes, legitimate customs of the University, and finally the pertinent statutes of the Dominican Province of the Philippines (DPP).

Cabading said the DPP, which became independent of the missionary Province of the Holy Rosary in 1971, sets policy and directions for all schools within its jurisdiction, which now includes UST.

“Whatever direction the DPP sets for Dominican schools, UST will follow. The direction, mission, vision would be in line with the general thrusts of the Church and the Order in the Philippines,” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

There will be new members in the UST Board of Trustees, namely: the syndic or treasurer of the Filipino Dominicans, the chairman of the Board of Rectors of Filipino Dominican schools, and a representative of the other “educational tradition” in the DPP. A proposal to include lay representatives to the board was not approved.

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“There are two Dominican traditions of education in the Philippines under the Dominicans, the UST and the Letran tradition. The representative of the Letran tradition will be a member of the Board of Trustees,” Cabading said.

Cabading added that there would be no changes in administrative processes of the University since UST had been functioning as if it were under DPP even before the official transfer.

Other DPP schools are Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila, Bataan, and Calamba; Our Lady of Manaoag College in Pangasinan; Aquinas University in Legazpi; Angelicum College and the Philippine Dominican Center for Institutional Studies in Quezon City; and Angelicum School in Iloilo.

Still under the Master

Vice Chancellor Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P., prior provincial of the Filipino province, said the transfer of jurisdiction meant that the mission originally undertaken by the headquarters of the centuries-old Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic de Guzman, would pass on to the DPP.

“[I]t means that the Provincial of the DPP is entrusted with the responsibility of assigning Filipino and non-Filipino brothers to the Priory of St. Thomas, the Dominican community charged with ministering and administering UST,” he said in an email sent to the Varsitarian.

The Master of the Order Fr. Bruno Cadore, O.P., a Frenchman, will remain UST’s grand chancellor, serving as liaison between the Holy See and the University.

Cabading said it was important that the Master of the Order is also Chancellor of the University, to guarantee the protection of UST under international law.

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“We are still directly under the Master of the Order because he is the assurance of the Dominican and Catholic character [of the University] … If the person occupying the top [position] has international character like the Holy See, there is protection under international law,” Cabading explained.

Under the new statutes, the Chancellor reserves the right to receive the annual report of the University, to require a meeting with University authorities, and to make a periodic visitation of the University.

Moreover, all University-related decisions will be subject to the approval of the Chancellor, including contracts to alienate or rent property as well as debts and obligations, worth beyond the sum assigned by the Holy See in the region.

More responsibilities

Cabading said the Filipino prior provincial, who also serves as UST vice chancellor, now has more responsibilities.

“[A]ccording to the statutes, [the vice chancellor is now a part of] the laws of the Holy See, the Republic of the Philippines, [and the] statutes of the [DPP], which means that whatever is given [by DPP] to the provincial as a task, there is impact on the operations of the University,” he said.

The book Beginnings of the Filipino Dominicans by former rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. details the Filipinization of the Order and UST that reached a climax with the appointment Fr. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. as the University’s first Filipino rector in October 1971.

In December of the same year, Filipino Dominicans became a separate Province from the Holy Rosary Province of Spanish Dominicans, which had jurisdiction over UST since its foundation. The University thereafter became a shared responsibility under the Master of the Order.

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Six Filipino Dominicans have since become rector, namely: the naturalized Fr. Frederik Fermin, O.P., Fr. Norberto Castillo, O.P., Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P., Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., and the incumbent Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P.

During the 1995 General Chapter of the Dominicans in Caleruega, Spain, the Priory of St. Thomas was transferred from the Master of the Order to the DPP, the first step toward the eventual transfer of jurisdiction over UST to the Filipino Dominicans. The General Chapter, the supreme authority of the Order, gathers leaders of Dominican provinces worldwide every three years.

In 2010, the General Chapter in Rome tasked the Master of the Order, Fr. Cadore, to appoint a commission for the turnover of UST to the Filipino Dominicans by 2013. Jerome P. Villanueva

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