Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 1, 1999
Edmonton eager to welcome new archbishop
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Church officials in the Edmonton Archdiocese are looking forward to working with Bishop Thomas Collins, the archdiocese's next archbishop.
They say Collins has all the right qualities to take over from Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, the archdiocese's spiritual leader for the past quarter century.
"It's a good appointment," said Father Mike McCaffery, the archdiocese's chancellor.
"He has certainly been around the diocese for the last year or so and we've had an opportunity to get to know him a little bit better. He's an intellectual. He is bright and he is very easy to relate to."
Collins, a 52-year-old Rome-educated scholar who served as bishop of St. Paul for the past 19 months, will take over the archdiocese in a few months.
"I think he'll be a good bishop," McCaffery said. "He seems to be a good listener and he's easy to talk to. He also seems very flexible."
These qualities are essential in a Church that sustains diverse opinions and points of views, McCaffery said. "I think he's a good appointment . . . to try to deal with the mismatch in the Church today."
Collins' appointment did not come as a surprise to McCaffery. "He was certainly one of the (candidates) the bishops often suggested to succeed Archbishop MacNeil," he said. "It wasn't a surprise."
Mary Ganton, coordinator of youth ministry for the archdiocese, is also happy with Collins' appointment.
"At the youth ministry office we are very pleased to have him as a bishop and we are kind of excited, looking forward to it," she said.
"I've been in contact with him before and he is very supportive of youth ministry and religious vocations.
"He also is just a very friendly, positive person. When you talk to him you can't help but feel that he's very committed to his people."
One of Collins' main attributes for the job is "his desire to do the very best he can," she said.
"In our Church we have to have room for people who are very liberal and also people who are very conservative and I really believe he is a man who tries to embrace all the people."
Ganton said she knew for about a year that Collins would replace MacNeil.
Sister Rose-Anne Gauvin, chair of the Council of Women Religious, thinks Collins' appointment is a "good thing" for Edmonton because he already knows his way around the archdiocese.
"From what I know of him, I believe that he will be an asset to the Archdiocese of Edmonton."
Gauvin works with Collins on the Alberta Vocation Directors Executive. "I find him very attentive to what we have to say."
"He seems to be very in tune with his own priests in his diocese and is very well-versed in theology. He speaks very well, he brings his message across and he listens also. I would believe that he would do a very good job."
Father Jean Papen, rector of St. Joseph's Seminary, is happy to have a former seminary rector as head of the archdiocese.
"I think particularly with his experience with seminaries he will look into the promotion of vocations and the encouragement of seminarians," he said.
Before becoming bishop of St. Paul in 1997, Collins was rector of St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont.
For Papen, Collins' appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton was a "pleasant surprise" that will bring a "new era" for the archdiocese. "He is a young bishop and has a lot of energy."
"He taught at Newman (Theological College) and is a very dynamic teacher."