Synergizing with The Master: Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. Visits Fenwick

During Fr. Gerard Timoner’s celebrated visit on December 9th, 2022, student groups such as Preaching Team, Asian American Association, and Broadcasting got to participate in an exclusive luncheon with the Master of the Order of Preachers himself. Fr. Timoner is the first Asian Master General of the Dominican Order, the 88th ever, a venerated line going back to St. Dominic Guzman. He was distinguished after the order’s general chapter election in Bien Hoa, July 13th 2019. Fr. Timoner is also a member of the International Theological Commission, appointed by Pope Francis himself, and the fourth Filipino to have that honor. He has dedicated his lifetime to service, a true model of the four Dominican pillars: community, preaching, study, and prayer.
During this luncheon, member’s of Fenwick’s Asian American Association including co-presidents Sophia Buen Santos and Jamon Graham asked Fr. Timoner about his Filipino culture, community, and impact for Asian representation world-wide. The group held space for important topics such as glass-ceiling limitations, his experience at the University of Santo Tomas, and his philosophy of being both a “priest” and a “teacher.”

Fr. Timoner and his entourage of Friars were curious to know about our futures: What we want to major in during college, what we want to achieve in our careers, and ultimately: how we would give back to our community. We, even at our current age, can harness our unique natural talents for good and devise our own path of service and ministry. While our paths of meaning vary, they have one same goal: purpose. Part of our gratitude to God should be pursuing purposeful meaning for selfless benefit.

We spoke about Study: the connection uniting students and the Order of Preachers, a critical part to the faith, and one the pillars of Dominican order. During our conversation, he emphasized his hope for Fenwick’s future “great leaders.” A school focused on holistic study, spiritual growth, and challenging academics is bound to nurture the hungry minds of our future lawmakers, teachers, and community influences. Learning more about the ranks of the order, we asked Fr.Timoner about the ranks of the order: How do you use your position for good? If you’re the boss of all Dominicans, couldn’t you allow Fr. Peddicord to give us the day off? Etc. He described his role as “walking a tightrope.” We all have multiple forces pressuring us on us at all times, but it’s how we harness this pressure that determines whether we fall, or fly. He later expresses how with every new challenge, we should have a growth mindset and not let failure consume us. Just as when learning how to ride a bike, we have to fall first. When we keep our spirit with God, through prayer and our actions, our will is strong. This is the synergy of life.

The prefix “Syn” in Greek means “together” or “with.” We often see this in words such as “symphony” or “synagogue”, but rarely connect it to our inner selves. How are we synchronized with God? How do we symbolize our true selves? Father continued his metaphor by describing the immanent relationship between us and God through the essence of synergy. We work together as one, for one. We embody this in our friendships, teams, and manifestations. Like pieces of the same bike, our role may seem small, and we may not see the point of it now, but together, we are capable of great things unachievable alone. Fenwick community: in a month associated with selfless love and devotion, how can we master synergy?