FILIPINO Dominicans have a new prior provincial or superior – Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, Jr., O.P., who by virtue of the position is now also the Vice Chancellor of the Pontifical University.

Sipalay’s appointment took effect on Oct. 21 following his election. He became chairman of the UST Board of Trustees on Nov. 10.

He succeeded Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., who served for four years during which he was named to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.

Sipalay vowed to strengthen UST’s educational brand by enhancing Thomasians’ critical thinking, guided by truth and the Catholic faith.

“The most important element in this educational process is the student and we have to help the students to be critical to be able to decide on [their] own,” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

“We are only here not only to harness our reason but it should be reason enlightened by faith and in [accord] with the virtues that we have in our Catholic faith,” Sipalay added.

Sipalay hopes Thomasians will deepen their “faith relationship” with the Lord through the education they are getting from their professors, to change society and uphold the truth.

The new provincial said he would also focus on the academic integration of Dominican educational institutions led by Timoner, and UST’s expansion to Santa Rosa, Laguna and General Santos City.

“The direction of UST [is set] for its development. The role of the vice chancellor is to give full support to the direction. To work is not only to work for Thomasians, but also for the society,” he said.

Sipalay said his appointment as prior provincial came as a surprise and even scared him, saying he only wanted “to follow.”

“When I learned about it, I was afraid. I never saw myself in office. I’m more into following than leading,” he said. “All my life I was preparing to become a doctor, but the Lord had other plans.”

With his election as prior provincial, Sipalay said he would lead the Order using the four thrusts that the Provincial Chapter had set in October – missionary option to the peripheries, itinerancy, deeper fraternal life and quality formation.

“A strong UST means a strong Dominican Province,” Sipalay said.

Sipalay obtained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies in 1992 and bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from UST in 1995. He earned his licentiate in 1997.

He was assigned as a missionary in Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2015 where he taught theology of consecrated life at the National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka in Kandy. He also worked as secretary to the Committee for Religious Formation of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2015.

Before he was elected prior provincial, he served as prior of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag, Pangasinan.


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