QUEZON City, June 25, 2015 –Just a year before the congregation marks its 800th foundation anniversary, no less than two members of the Philippine episcopate have recently chosen to join the local province of Order of the Preachers (O.P.).
They are Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas and La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran.
“It is good to note that on the eve of the 8th centenary of our Order, these bishops saw in the charism of our Order a spirituality that could enrich their priestly, even episcopal ministry,” says Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner, O.P., Dominican prior provincial in the Philippines.
The priest confirmed this news in a letter, saying that the Dominican family accepted the prelates as novices to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic in the Philippines, clothing them in the iconic black-and-white habit of the Order on June 12, 2015, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the Basilica Minore of Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario in Manaoag, Pangasinan.
“On this Year of Consecrated Life, we are happy to announce that we have formally welcomed to the Dominican Family two bishops, Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D., Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, currently the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), and Rodolfo Beltran, D.D., Bishop of San Fernando, La Union,” he says.
While there are already several diocesan priests and bishops who are members of the Priestly Fraternity, Timoner shares it is the first time in the history of the Dominicans in the country that bishops, two at that, sought membership in the community known for preaching.
“Certainly their act challenges us to live more faithfully our vowed life and to share generously the vocation we cherish. Let us all welcome these two brothers, our bishops, with fraternal embrace, and support them with our prayers,” he adds.
Meanwhile, lay Dominicans also congratulated Villegas and Beltran on their decision to adopt the spirituality of St. Dominic de Guzman.
Aggie Mayoralgo Valenzuela exclaimed, “We are very proud that you choose the Dominican Order. Maraming, maraming Salamat po.”
Lawyer Marwil N. Llasos of the Company of St, Dominic, a secular institute under the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM), said, “Welcome to the family.”
Alumni of OP schools
An alumnus of the Dominican-run Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Manila, Villegas is no stranger to the “Friars Preachers.”
Likewise, Beltran is a product of another Dominican institution, the Pontifical and Royal Catholic University of Santo Tomás (UST)’s Ecclesiastical Faculties, where he finished his Bachelor’s (1975) and Licentiate (1977) degrees in Sacred Theology. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)