Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. FILE PHOTO. (Photo by Miah Terrenz Provido/ The Varsitarian)

The Master of the Order urged Dominicans to emulate the apostles of old and build a community of disciples who are witnesses and preachers of the resurrection during the 800th anniversary of the order’s first general chapter on May 13.

“At the moment they left everything to follow Him, the disciples did not fully comprehend where such a journey would bring them, or how it would change their lives or those of others. But the time they spent living with and listening to Jesus formed them into a community of disciples and, eventually, into witnesses and preachers of the resurrection,” Fr. Gerard Timoner, O.P. said in a message.

Timoner, the University chancellor, also reminded Dominicans that chapters, whether general, provincial or conventual, were “instruments for building communion” and sharing the Gospel.

“They [chapters] provide space for confronting challenges the brothers face, for seeking consensus on divisive matters, for discerning the best possible ways to serve the mission of the Order at a particular moment and place, and more importantly, for mutual listening and learning, as brothers,” he said.

According to the Book of Constitutions and Ordinations of the Order of Preachers, a general chapter, held every three years, is a “gathering of the brothers representing the provinces of the Order to discuss and decide matters that pertain to the good of the whole Order and, if the need should arise, to elect the Master of the Order.”

Timoner told Dominicans to make decisions in an “apostolic way” if they wanted to embrace the apostolic life of the Order.

Echoing St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop of Antioch after St. Peter the Apostle, Timoner said Dominicans are “companions on the way,” by virtue of the dignity of baptism and their friendship with Christ.

Communion within the order

French Dominican Fr. Bruno Cadore, O.P., master from 2010 to 2019, emphasized that chapters promote fraternity and friendship within the Dominican community.

“Chapters assemble brothers who do not know each other and yet recognize each other, meet and talk of ideas that might be mutually exclusive. In doing so, they want to set aside any exclusive claim to the truth to seek with others new paths towards the truth,” he said.

“They bring together cultures so distant from one another, nonetheless convinced that each is irreplaceable and that none is sufficient alone to discover the richness of evangelization,” he added.

British Dominican Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., master of the order from 1992 to 2001, said the chapters help maintain unity within the Order.

“We seek a consensus which is more than a compromise, but a spacious truth, large enough to win the consent of as many brethren as possible. We take the time so that everyone is heard,” he said.

There are three types of general chapters in the Order that happen through a nine-year cycle: The General Chapter of Diffinitors, followed by the General Chapter of Provincial Priors in the sixth year and the General Elective Chapter in the ninth year.

Both the diffinitors and the provincial priors elect a new master during the latter.

Born in Caleruega, Spain, St. Dominic de Guzman founded the Order of Preachers in 1216. The order has approximately 5,647 members as of 2020, statistics from showed. Ma. Alena O. Castillo and Sophia T. Sadang


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