Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 5, 1999
MacNeil introduces Collins at Chrism Mass
By GLEN ARGAN
It was a packed St. Joseph's Basilica which greeted Edmonton's two archbishops at their first major public liturgy together March 29.
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was relaxed and jovial in celebrating the annual Chrism Mass in the basilica with Coadjutor Archbishop Thomas Collins at his side.
MacNeil introduced his successor as "a hope-filled person of vigour and vitality" and said Collins will likely be installed as archbishop "in a couple of months."
But it was MacNeil who received a standing ovation from the congregation. "If I'd known that's what you thought of me, I wouldn't have resigned," joked the archbishop who will turn 75 on April 15.
Collins, 52, served as bishop of St. Paul from June 1997 until March 24 when he turned in official papers appointing him coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton to the consultor priests of the archdiocese.
He will automatically become archbishop of Edmonton when MacNeil's resignation is accepted by the pope.
The Chrism Mass is held every year during Holy Week. At the event, oils to be used in sacramental celebrations over the next year are blessed and consecrated by the archbishop and distributed to parish representatives.
As well, priests serving in the archdiocese make a renewal of commitment to priestly service.
This year was almost certainly the last time MacNeil will preside over the liturgy. But rather than use his homily to dwell on the past, he reflected on the priesthood.
The shortage of priests which has led to a restructuring of parishes in the archdiocese is a phenomenon being experienced in almost every diocese in the world, he noted.
The archdiocese is trying to make the best use of its priestly resources, he said.
The archbishop said he has empathy for those parishes most affected by restructuring. That restructuring is painful for all, especially for the priests.
"We owe our priests an enormous debt of gratitude for their faithfulness, their concern," he said, drawing another standing ovation for the approximately 125 clergy in attendance.
MacNeil said all Catholics have a responsibility to promote vocations by witnessing to their faith in Christ. "Youngsters will not be attracted to the priesthood unless they are first attracted to Jesus Christ."
MacNeil noted Collins' experience in promoting vocations and said he will bring new insights to the archdiocese.
He has "a great smile and a caring disposition," he added.
Also present at the Mass was Father Arth‚ Guimond, administrator of the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese. Guimond was to bless the oils at that archdiocese's Chrism Mass March 30. But because he is not a bishop, he was unable to consecrate the oil of Chrism - a service which MacNeil performed.