Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 11, 1999
Collins cool to Communion services
More priests will give all an opportunity to share in Eucharist, he says
By GLEN ARGAN
The archbishop of Edmonton wants all 320,000 Catholics in the archdiocese to have the opportunity to take part in the celebration of Sunday Eucharist.
And regular lay-led Communion services are not the way to get there, says Archbishop Thomas Collins.
"This is just not the right direction," Collins told the Oct. 2 meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
Lay-led services of the Word and Communion may be necessary on occasion when the pastor is sick, on vacation or unable to attend because of poor weather, he said. "But as a regular solution, it is no solution."
"It gives the illusion of a solution because it appears that we almost have the Mass. But we don't have the Mass at all."
With regular lay-led Communion services, Collins said, "What the Mass becomes is an occasion for consecrating the Blessed Sacrament to supply Communion to outlying communities."
The archbishop pointed to more priestly vocations as the way to overcome the lack of access to Sunday Eucharist which some people are experiencing.
He encouraged pastors and parish council members to let him know the names of those in their parishes who might be good priests or sisters.
But Collins said "even when we get 300 priests" in the archdiocese, it probably won't mean opening all parishes which are currently being closed.
Some churches were built long ago when travel was more difficult than it is today. Other parishes have become less thriving because of depopulation, he noted.
Still other parishes, however, have been closed because of the temporary shortage of priests, he said. "We do for the moment what we must do."
When asked later by the WCR about that comment, the archbishop wouldn't say some of those parishes will eventually reopen.
"We can't promise a place that even if we have 300 priests, they will have a situation exactly as they had in the past," he said.
The archdiocese may want, for example, to have priests live together in teams, fanning out from a central location to serve a wide area, he said.
Collins also told the APC that the key point in the Transformation of Parishes (ToPs) is transformation.
"The pastoral plan of the archdiocese is not how to shut down churches. It's how to transform and build better communities. Sometimes restructuring is part of that."
There is a great need for evangelization "so we can be what we are meant to be," he said.
Local Church communities which don't have a resident priest or Sunday Eucharist can still thrive by maintaining activities such as the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, youth groups, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women's League and evangelization, he said.
However, Jim Collins of Thorsby said there is difficulty in retaining a sense of Church community when there is no celebration of the Eucharist there.
And he expressed concern about failures to communicate changes in parish restructuring plans to the parishes.
His parish spent four months planning for a merger with one parish as suggested in the plan when it learned that the other parish was going to be merged with yet another parish.
Better communication will help end suspicions at the parish level which make it hard to win support for parish mergers, said Jim Collins.
While ToPs is not the pastoral plan of the archdiocese, "the points which most need to be emphasized have not yet been developed," he said referring to the need to develop stronger communities.
Joe Staszko of Fort Saskatchewan said there has been "a lot of confusion, anxiety and tension in the past year" in his area over parish restructuring.
But barriers have been broken down by sharing information, he said. People on his regional pastoral council don't always agree on what changes are needed, but they do agree there must be change.
"The Church is different than it was 100 years ago. The horse and buggy era has gone" said Staszko.
"The (parish restructuring) changes are healthy; they're positive; they're for the growth of the Church."
Ed Tworek of the Jasper East Regional Pastoral Council said there is "general opposition" to parish restructuring in his area.
Canada has never been able to meet its human resource needs and should rely on vocations to come from abroad as well as at home, he said.