Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 20, 1999
Collins impresses a crowd
Crowd of 1,500 likes what it sees in new archbishop
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Pauline Wandler is impressed with the new archbishop of Edmonton, Thomas Collins.
"He's a wonderful man, you can understand every word he says. He's very clear in what he says."
She also thinks he's more than just a good public speaker.
"He seems so friendly and outgoing," said the longtime member of St. John the Evangelist Parish. "And he's a nice, good-looking young man. That's nice to have too."
Wandler was among the more than 1,500 people, who stood elbow to elbow during Collins' installation ceremony at St. Joseph's Basilica Sept. 13.
"I wanted to come and see what he looked like," Wandler said. "So I know who to look for if I see him on the street."
The reputation as a great public speaker has followed Collins since his move to Alberta more than two years ago. Those who have never met him have built their perception of him from his homilies and speaking engagements.
"I haven't met him, but I heard him talk once," said Wally Klein, a parishioner at St. Joseph's Basilica. "He's a great speaker. He's very friendly and full of zest."
Irene Gluckie added, "He's very interesting, I like his analogies; it really speaks to you."
Gluckie, a teacher with Edmonton Catholic Schools, is confident Collins will be around for the long haul and is even more confident "he'll do an awesome job."
Public speaking has always been a strong suit for Collins, said his close friend Father Robert Dunn of Hamilton, Ont.
"He has a great command of the English language and he's very enthused about his words and the way he uses them," Dunn said. "He's always been very personable and a person of deep faith. That all comes out when he speaks."
Dunn has known Collins since their days in the seminary. As a seminarian one year ahead of Collins, Dunn was both mentor and friend. He's always seen a lot of potential in the young Collins and sees even more potential now.
"All of his openness will come through in his work here," Dunn said. "He's a people person. Everyone will see that if they haven't already.
"He's knowledgeable without making others feel less knowledgeable than he is. He's willing to draw people out, to hear what they have to say, so they don't have to hear only what he says."
Humour is also one of Collins' characteristics, although Dunn says it's sometimes a little dry and leaves people "not sure if they're suppose to laugh or not."
Ray Kennedy appreciates the archbishop's humour, dry or not.
"He's got a great sense of humour," said Kennedy, another parishioner from St. John the Evangelist. "Every now and then he says something to wake me up. Sometimes he says things that are a little deep for me. He kind of wakes me up and makes me think about it.
"He's going to wake up this whole diocese. He's definitely a worthy replacement."
Collins has also been recognized as a favourite among the youth of the diocese.
"He's going to attract the young people," said Donna Kisslinger of Drayton Valley. "Whatever our generation (of parents) have missed in instilling in our youth, he will find them and bring them back.
"He's very uplifting, very young. He's a shepherd that may gather in the ones that have strayed."