UST Central Seminary Vice Rector Fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr., O.P. has become the first Filipino Dominican to be appointed bishop in nearly three decades, taking the helm of the Diocese of Alaminos in Pangasinan. 

The Vatican made the announcement on Sunday night, Jan. 28, Manila time, coinciding with the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The last Filipino Dominican to be installed bishop was the late Jose Paala Salazar, who served at the Territorial Prelature of Batanes from 1996 to 2002.

In a statement, the Dominican Province of the Philippines expressed support for Sipalay.

“With cordial and fraternal blessings, we offer our congratulations to our brother, Brother Napoleon B. Sipalay Jr., O.P., on his appointment as Bishop of Alaminos in Pangasinan,” it said. “[B]e assured that the Brothers of the Dominican Province of the Philippines will continue to pray for you as you embark on this new chapter of your service to the Church as a Dominican Bishop.”

The Diocese of Alaminos was sede vacante, or a diocese without an appointed bishop, since January 2020 after Bishop Ricardo Baccay was reassigned to the Diocese of Tuguegarao. Auxiliary Bishop Fidelis Bautista Layog served as caretaker.

Sipalay was the prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and UST vice chancellor from 2016 to 2021. He also held the chairmanship of the University’s board of trustees.

He obtained his bachelor’s in philosophy from the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies in 1992 and his bachelor’s in theology from the University in 1995. He was ordained priest in 1997.

Sipalay pursued further studies at the Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia, located in Quezon City.

The newly minted Alaminos bishop entered the Dominican order in 1988 and made his first profession in 1991.

In 2006, the Seminary vice rector flew to Sri Lanka to do missionary work, teaching the theology of consecrated life at the National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka in the city of Kandy. From 2009 to 2015, he worked as secretary to the Committee for Religious Formation of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Sri Lanka.

Sipalay’s other posts included assistant master of students at the Dominican Province of the Philippines from 1996 to 2000, director of pastoral formation in Quezon City from 1999 to 2000, conventual councilor at the Santo Domingo Convent from 1999 to 2001, and novice master of the Dominican Novitiate in Manaoag, Pangasinan from 2001 to 2006.

Sipalay is the fourth Filipino Dominican to be named a prelate, after Salazar; the late former UST rector Leonardo Legaspi, O.P., who was archbishop to Caceres from 1984 to 2012; and Msgr. Mario Baltazar, O.P., who was prelate of Batanes and the Babuyan Islands from 1966 to 1995.


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