Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 1999
Pastoral Centre welcomes Collins
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was so happy at being replaced as archbishop of Edmonton that when he learned Archbishop Thomas Collins would take over for him he couldn't hide his emotions, said Father Mike McCaffery.
Like a slave being set free, the archbishop exclaimed "Free at last; God almighty, I'm free at last," McCaffery, the archdiocese's chancellor, said jokingly at a June 10 wine and cheese reception for MacNeil and Collins.
About 50 archdiocesan employees, priests, commission leaders and guests attended the ceremony at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
McCaffery showered his former boss with praise, describing MacNeil as a remarkable exponent of the virtues of patience and tolerance.
"During the 26 years that you have been in the archdiocese you have been a true shepherd and a true servant of the people of God in this archdiocese," he said.
MacNeil replied: "These 26 years have been a wonderful gift to me."
When he took over as archbishop in 1973, there were seven chancery employees and few commissions in the archdiocese.
Today there are only 10 chancery employees although the workload has tripled, MacNeil said, adding the Edmonton Archdiocese is one of the few archdioceses around the world that has set up commissions to carry on the Church's work.
The archbishop promised he would "hang around," but only after he visits Cape Breton, Scotland and Israel. Gifts were presented to MacNeil at the reception, including a farewell card filled with good wishes.
Msgr. Donald MacDonald extended Collins "one hundred thousand welcomes" to the archdiocese.
MacDonald wished Collins success. "May you experience the presence of God . . . not in a terrible windstorm, not in a lighting storm, but always in a gentle breeze," he said.
"You are most welcome and it's a privilege to have you with us. You can be sure of our support and of our prayers as well."
Rita Strauss, executive secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, welcomed Collins and assured the archbishop people in the archdiocese are "truly looking forward" to working with him.
"And we promise, for a little while at least, to go easy on you," she told the prelate, to laughter and applause.
Collins thanked everyone for helping him during the transition saying he looks forward with "real joy" and "excitement" and "expectation" for the years that lay ahead.
"I ask you always to keep me in your prayers," he said.