Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III

A Filipino has broken the stained-glass ceiling in one of the Catholic’s Church’s major religious orders.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III was elected master of the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominican Order, during the general chapter or meeting of all priors provincial or country chiefs of the order in Vietnam on Saturday.

The election of a Filipino as master of the Dominicans signals a big shift to the developing world where the Church is growing, and away from the West.

The announcement was made on social media by the rector of the Dominican-run University of Santo Tomas, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., who was with Timoner in Vietnam.

Timoner, 51, was previously socius or assistant for Asia and the Pacific of the outgoing master, the Frenchman Bruno Cadoré, and head of the Filipino Dominicans. The Daet, Camarines Norte native is also a member of the Pope’s theological commission.

Blogger Carlos Antonio Palad, on Facebook, explained the historic significance of Timoner’s election.

Fr. Timoner is not just the first Filipino master general of the Dominicans. He is also the first Filipino to be the worldwide head any of the major religious Orders founded before the French Revolution — in other words, the first Filipino to head any of the main Monastic, Mendicant, Canons and Clerics Regular Orders. Considering that the Dominicans tarried until the 1930’s to accept ‘indio’ Filipinos into its ranks, this is quite an achievement,” he said.

The Dominican Order, one of the so-called mendicant orders, was founded in December 1216 by the Spanish Dominic de Guzman to combat French heretics.

The order, based in Rome, produced famous saints and mystics like Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena and Martin de Porres, and also the notorious grand inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada.

The Dominicans arrived in the Philippines in 1587 and went on to found institutions such as UST, as well as shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the rosary devotion. (