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PHILIPPINES | Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr.: From the Shoulders of the Shepherd

Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr.

Message to the Dominican Province of the Philippines on the Occasion of his Profession as Member of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic by His Eminence, Most Reverend Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr., 11 December 2021

The Very Reverend Father Filemon de la Cruz of the Order of Preachers, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, our dear Dominican fathers and brothers, other members of the Dominican family, my dearly beloved in Christ.

This evening I am humbled by the warm embrace of welcome that you have extended to me as a new member of the Dominican family through my profession as a member of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic. The experience is for me truly overwhelming. Imagine donning the habit worn by Dominic de Guzman, Thomas Aquinas, Domingo de Salazar, Miguel de Benavides, Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, Leonardo Legaspi, and my esteemed Dominican formators and professors.

I have always considered myself a son of St. Dominic, having been trained and formed, first, by the Dominican Sisters in St. Martin Academy in my hometown (Dumalag, Capiz), and later by the Dominican Fathers in the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila and in the Pontificia Università San Tommaso D’Aquino in Rome.

We rejoice in gratitude for the Golden Jubilee of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and the celebration of the 800 years of the dies natalis of St. Dominic. It is providential that we likewise celebrate the 500 years of the arrival of Christianity in our land. We remember the great contributions of the sons of St. Dominic to our country. For Pope Francis, the gift of St. Dominic and the Dominicans can be seen in their mission in schools and institutes of higher learning, in the arts and sciences, in the simplicity of poverty and charitable works, and even in the martyrdom of many in the Dominican family. As Pope Francis highlights, “The Dominican charism of preaching overflowed early into the establishment of the varied branches of the larger Dominican family, embracing all the states of life in the Church.”

The first Bishop of Manila was a Dominican, Domingo de Salazar. In the letter of Pope Francis to the Master of the Order, the Very Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, OP for the Dominican Jubilee, the Holy Father mentions Domingo de Salazar and describes him as a great son of Dominic, grounded in the truth of universal human rights, and defender of the dignity and rights of the native peoples. The glory of St. Dominic was first seen in our country in the mission of fighting for the rights of the lowly and the oppressed. I am the 33rd successor of Domingo de Salazar, and I pray that as a member of the Dominican family, I too, may learn from St. Dominic, as I shepherd the local Church entrusted to my care.

It is said that St. Dominic, praying while “sitting quietly, would pause in recollection with an inner attitude of listening.” I ask St. Dominic to teach me how to be a listening shepherd. Last December 8, after I have ordained four Dominicans in the morning, I received in the evening the pallium which is a reminder that as a shepherd I bear the sheep upon my shoulders so that I can carry them home to the Lord's sheepfold. The shoulders of the shepherd should be the privileged place for the lost, the hungry, the deserted, and the wounded. On his shoulders, the sheep in his care are very close to his ears and to his heart. From there, they can freely whisper their grumblings and groans, voice out their sighs and cries, and reveal their desires and delights. And to these, the shepherd responds, “Audiam! I will listen. I hear you well, and I love you. Come, let us journey together to the verdant pastures and still waters of the Lord.”

The constitution of the Dominican nuns intimates that Dominic bore the sinners, the down-trodden, and the afflicted in the inmost sanctuary of his compassion. At the beginning of my Dominican vocation, I have sought God's mercy. May God's mercy enable me to bear in the inmost sanctuary of my compassion the people entrusted to my care.

Even when his life was in danger, it is said that Dominic sang cheerfully through his journeys. He exuded courage, joy, and hope. Let us pray that we may be Dominic in our world today bearing God's gifts of courage, joy, and hope.

Amang Santo Domingo, ipanalangin mo kami. Maraming salamat po.

This article was lifted from Phildom, the official newsletter of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, December 2021 Issue