Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 20, 1999
New archbishop has roads to travel, many parishes, groups to visit
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Ninety-three parishes, more than 100 schools, miles of city and country roads, and a slew of archdiocesan councils, commissions and committees are part of the list of still things to do and see for Archbishop Thomas Collins.
"I have been trying to learn about the archdiocese," said Collins, just hours before his installation ceremony Sept. 13. "It has always been my goal to learn as much as I can about the archdiocese. Obviously it would take a lifetime to learn things in a diocese of this complexity."
The past few months have been a barrage of dates and meetings with administrators and parishioners in hopes of learning all he can about the archdiocese he will guide into the next millennium.
"I'm trying to meet with people, learning about the issues," Collins said. "And continuing to encourage the various groups in the diocese."
Collins is also active in his encouragement of parishioners and committees involved with social issues.
"There are many of these issues in our society. We have to make sure people are not victimized. There are many people in need and it's so nice to see so many of the churches helping. We need to continuously encourage this.
"Within the Church itself, there are needs as well. We need to have a real spirit of evangelization. We need to encourage and build on what's already there."
Since stepping onto Alberta soil in 1997, Collins' name has always been synonymous with vocations. He had vowed to find 50 new priests and sisters for the St. Paul Diocese, but his stay there was short-lived and his mission was not completed.
His move to Edmonton has not removed vocations from his agenda. He still pushes the issue every chance he gets. His signature line has become "If you know anyone who's interested, call me, 469-1010."
"My top priority is more vocations to the priesthood," Collins said. "Not because it's the only vocation, but I think right now in this area, it's the most pressing. When we have more than enough priests than we can look at something else."
Collins is thankful that the archdiocese has been blessed with priests from other dioceses and countries, but that should not clear the archdiocese of finding its own priests.
"But (other countries) should not fundamentally be responsible for supplying us with priests and sisters. They should come from within the diocese.
"I want to be the voice that articulates the call. I like to send notes to people who are interested in vocations, and I will continue to send these direct invitations as Jesus did."
Along with priestly vocations, Collins recognizes the need for other vocations, such as religious sisters and lay people.
As well as attending to the needs at home, the archbishop also has responsibilities outside the diocese. This fall, he'll be gone for a month to attend the annual meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and then flying to Rome where the Western bishops make their ad limina visits with the pope and Vatican congregations, an event which occurs once every five years.