CEBU CITY – Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma entered the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic in the Philippines in a rite of admission at the chapel of the Archbishop’s Palace in Cebu last
Jan. 23.

Palma said his admission to the order was not late, and was an act of “growing in holiness” by living out the Dominican spirituality of preaching and study.

“There is nothing late about love. There is an interior journey [in] the sacred study of scriptures so that we may be able to preach with the voice of God and be instruments of peace and brotherhood. I think that God does not become really old or late,” Palma told the Varsitarian.

Palma said he entered the fraternity to “externalize” the Dominican spirituality he gained while taking up his master’s degree in theology in UST and doctorate in the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Palma admitted that after becoming a bishop in 1998, he feared he would “forget” the blessings he received, but St. Dominic’s teaching on voluntary poverty kept him grounded.

“I thought having become a bishop there is a temptation to forget that I have received so much, and voluntary poverty means the constant reminder that [these] are gifts of the Lord and I am only a steward. Somehow, I rediscovered that,” he said.

Dominican brotherhood

Inspired by the celebration of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, Palma described his admission to the fraternity as a “renewed enthusiasm” to rediscover the importance of preaching and practicing true brotherhood in the world.

“We are missionaries in the sense of we are in communion and we are brothers. We show people that we are brothers to each one when we gather for prayer before study, for common meals, and even for plans that would help us live out being priests,” he said.

Dominican Prior Provincial Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, Jr, O.P. said “infinite sacramental fraternity” aids priests in staying enthusiastic about their mission.

“There are indeed challenges in the life of a minister and valuable helps are given so that priests can embrace their mission with zeal and enthusiasm. And the solution is infinite sacramental fraternity,” Sipalay said during the rite of admission.

Echoing the Master of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Bruno Cadore, O.P., Sipalay challenged Dominicans to preach by building friendships in communities.

“Dominicans are friends who are carriers of the friendship of God. Dominicans are bridge-builders between communities and groups who have appeared to be excluded, thus the existing segregation and exclusion,” Sipalay said.

Thomasian emphasis on education

Palma said his Thomasian student life taught him that to become a servant of the Church, one must give importance to education.

“The academics can make it good with the ministry, so it is in spirit that we have become more challenged to give more importance to education and of course to become like St. Dominic,” he said.

Sipalay, together with former provincial Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, O.P., led the rite of admission, which included the giving of the Dominican habit.

Palma is the third archbishop to be admitted to the fraternity, after Archbishop Socrates Villegas and the late Archbishop Rodolfo Beltran.

With 330 members, the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic is an association of secular priests who follow the Dominican spirituality. Two hundred of them came from the Philippines. With reports from L.C. N. Agot and P.A. M. Gumapos


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