June 15, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – THE HEAD of the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is now a member of the Dominican
Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines (DCFP).

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP
president, received the habit of Saint Dominic during the vespers of the
Dominican Community of Manaoag last June 12 at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady
of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan. Fr. Gerard Timoner, O.P.,
prior provincial, led the celebration.

Villegas considered it a blessing to be part of the
Dominican order.

“I had my first deep encounter with God and the Virgin
[Mary] as a teenager in [Colegio de San Juan De] Letran. I have always tried my
best to live the Dominican spirit in my heart. I need help as an archbishop. I
know I can count on the prayers of Saint Dominic and the support of my
Dominican brethren,” Villegas said in a text message to the Varsitarian. “It is a blessing to
belong to the Dominican family.”

He cited Fr. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P., the first Filipino
rector of UST, and Fr. Pompeyo De Mesa, O.P., regent of the Faculty of
Pharmacy, as his “Dominican idols.”

Villegas was installed as archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in
2009, and elected CBCP president in 2013.

Villegas finished Philosophy (1981) and Theology (1985) in
San Carlos Major Seminary in Makati.  He
finished high school at the Colegio de San Juan De Letran in Manila, a
Dominican-run institution.

Together with Villegas, Bishop Rodolfo Beltran of the
Diocese of San Fernando in La Union has also joined the Dominican Order.

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Beltran studied Theology (1970 – 1975) and Licentiate in
Sacred Theology (1976 – 1977) in UST. In 1990, he obtained his Doctorate in
Philosophy at the Angelicum University in Rome.

According to DCFP, diocesan clerics can be affiliated to the
Order of Preachers through the priestly fraternity.

“Members of the fraternity are diocesan priests who remain
to be under the jurisdiction of their Proper Ordinary. They are guided by a
Rule, which is not intended to run contrary to their ministry in the diocese,
but rather to nourish their spirituality under the inspiration of Saint
Dominic,” DCFP said.

According to Rule for the Priest Fraternities of Saint
Dominic, promulgated in 1996, the inclusion to the Order gives the diocesan
clergies “new spiritual helps,” which makes them members of the Dominican
missions. But they are still under the jurisdiction of their own bishops. Angeli
Mae S. Cantillana

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