Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic continues to flourish in the Philippines
As the Order celebrates its Jubilee, the Dominican fraternity of priests continues to flourish in the Province of the Philippines. The recent months witnessed various members being received, renewing their promise of commitment, and making profession to follow the rule of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic for their entire life.
On 12 October 2015, during the celebration of vespers in the chapel of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Central Seminary, three secular priests made the solemn promise to follow the Rule of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic until death: Fr. Randy N. Boiser, OP (Diocese of Talibon), Fr. John Egbert B. Dumali, OP (Archdiocese of Capiz), and Fr. Simplicio C. Pugasan Jr., OP (Archdiocese of Cebu). On the same occasion, 13 seminarians made the temporary promise, while 4 other seminarians renewed the same promise of commitment to the Rule. The rite was presided over by fr. Florentino A. Bolo, Jr., OP, Coordinator for the Priestly Fraternities of the Order, with the assistance of the Provincial Promoter, fr. Romualdo P. Cabanatan, Jr., OP, and of the Prior of the Fraternity, Fr. Carlo del Rosario, of the Archdiocese of Manila.
On 10 December 2015, Thursday, 18 more Theology students of the UST Central Seminary were welcomed into the family of St. Dominic in a rite of admission presided over by fr. Cabanatan, also with Fr. del Rosario assisting. Prior to their reception, the candidates underwent formation on the Rule, the Dominican Family, and the spirituality of the Order, with particular emphasis on the aspects of community, prayer, study and apostolate. In his talk, fr. Cabanatan asserted that membership in the fraternity involves following a spirituality, that is, a style of living that is guided by the inspiration of St. Dominic and his entire spiritual family. The event was witnessed by the entire seminary community, as well as family and friends of the candidates. Also present were some members of the lay fraternities of UST with whom the seminarians occasionally share moments of common prayer and fellowship.
On 10 January 2016, on the occasion of his 18th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Allan Morris Abuan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, made a solemn promise in the priestly fraternities of the Order. The rite was held at the St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, where he is currently assigned as its pastor. Fr. Cabanatan presided over the ritual, which was held within the celebration of the Eucharist with the main celebrant fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr., OP, Prior of the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manaoag, Pangasinan. The joyous occasion was attended by parishioners as well as by some members of the Dominican Family in the Archdiocese. Fr. Abuan was received into the fraternity when he was still a seminarian at the UST Central Seminary. Though he had long since left the seminary after his academic formation and subsequent reception of the Holy Orders, he continued to maintain the affinity he made with the Dominicans, placing himself under the spiritual guidance of St. Dominic. This long and continuous journey of spiritual bond with the Order finally found the opportune time to be formally manifested, providentially also since his new parish of assignment was evangelized by the early Dominican missionaries in the Philippines centuries ago, hence the patronage of the church. Expressing his gratitude to those present during the event, Fr. Abuan said, “Indeed, God’s mercy is immeasurable for allowing me to become a part of a family formed by saints and sinners. And beyond doubt, receiving God’s mercy entails a responsibility to embrace the Dominican family and the people it serves with a heartfelt mercy.”
From its long-standing practice of receiving seminarians even before the tertiaries became known as fraternities in the Order, the current priestly fraternity in the Philippines has continued to maintain in its local norms the admission of seminarians who are at least in their Theology stage of formation. This is through a temporary promise, which the individual seminarian renews periodically until he is ordained. This practice also explains the existence in the fraternity of a number of bishop-members, having been received into the family of St. Dominic when they were seminarians, and since then have continued to live the spirituality of the Order even after their ordination as bishops. It was only in June 2015 that the fraternity received for the first time two members who are already ordained as bishops: Most Rev. Socrates Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, who is the current president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, and Most Rev. Rudolfo Beltran of the Diocese of San Fernando, La Union. Today, the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines has membership of 193, of which 134 are clerics with 14 bishops.
(10 February 2016)