Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 1, 1999
New shepherd enjoys being a bishop
By GLEN ARGAN
Bishop Thomas Collins says one of the biggest changes he faced when he became a bishop was the shift from spending his life in one building to always being on the road.
But even though he spent 20 years as a seminary professor and administrator, Collins says that work was always pastoral in nature.
"I was really not a teacher who provided spiritual direction. I was a spiritual director who taught," Edmonton's next archbishop told a news conference Feb. 19.
"My main work was spiritual direction - helping people find out whether they were called to the priesthood."
During his 19 months as bishop of St. Paul, Collins logged 60,000 km on his car and found that the people of that diocese "are very wonderful, very welcoming."
As well, "I went from being a middle-aged priest to being a young bishop which is a great thing to have happen."
"I love being a priest and I love being a bishop," he said. "In the short time I've been a bishop, I just found it wonderful."
As bishop, he even gets to continue to teach. "I do teaching in other ways and I don't have to mark the papers."
Now, life is changing again for the 52-year-old native of Guelph, Ont. Collins' appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton, with the right of succession to Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, was announced Feb. 18.
In the next few weeks, he is expected to relinquish his duties in St. Paul and move to Edmonton.
When he does, the St. Paul see will become vacant and the consultor priests of the diocese will name a temporary administrator to serve until a new bishop is named.
It could take "several months to even a year or more" until such an appointment is made, Collins said. Several Canadian dioceses, including Grouard-McLennan in northwestern Alberta, are currently without bishops.
Collins will become archbishop of Edmonton when MacNeil's retirement letter is accepted by Pope John Paul, likely later this spring.
Collins said he has relied on MacNeil for advice while in St. Paul and expects to continue to do so in Edmonton.
"I think there'll be many times in the future when he'll get a call from his successor asking, 'What do I do now?'"
He says he's eager to assume his new post. "There's challenges, but I don't know what they are. I'll just take it one day at a time and try to serve the Lord."
"The greatest need of the Church," he says, "is just to be faithful to the Lord and move outward. In our society, there's a great need for the light of Christ."
One should not be overwhelmed by life's cares and troubles, but rather accept that "there's the Lord Jesus leading us, ruling the universe."
Christians, he said, are called to "the joy of following Christ and encouraging others to do that too."