Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 24, 2000
Collins blesses oils at Chrism Mass
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
It was his fourth Chrism Mass in Alberta, his second at St. Joseph's Basilica, but his first solo as the archbishop of Edmonton.
Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated the annual Chrism Mass April 17, with retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, Father Walter Laliberty, administrator of the St. Paul Diocese, and 110 priests from across the archdiocese.
In his homily to the full house at the basilica, which included his sisters Catharine and Patricia from Ontario, Collins spoke of the human presence of God.
"The word became flesh and dwelt among us," Collins said. "We reflect upon the way the Lord came into this world to touch us, to be with us.
"God speaks to us in a human way . . . through our senses."
"God does not work among us aloof and divine. He is among us as we go through the struggles. Our experience with God is not instantaneous, it is over time. . . . He comes quietly, gently into our midst."
The words and power of God, said Collins, should be especially touching in our time of suffering and feelings of loneliness and rejection.
"We know that the Almighty God has experienced that suffering and rejection on the cross," Collins said. "The Almighty God on the cross has experienced that in a human way."
The Chrism Mass is held annually during Holy Week. During the Mass, oils to be used in sacramental celebrations over the next year are blessed and consecrated by the archbishop and distributed to parish representatives.
Collins, the former bishop of St. Paul, celebrated his first Chrism Mass in that diocese in March 1998 and his last a year later. As coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton, he celebrated last year's Mass with MacNeil.
The Chrism Mass is also a time when priests working in the archdiocese make a renewal of commitment to priestly service.
In previous talks, Collins had often advocated the urgency for vocations. But at the Chrism Mass, he left out his signature line - "I'm looking for 300 new priests and 300 sisters."
However, he maintained the importance of vocations in the various Church ministries before introducing the crowd to the 10 seminarians present at the Mass. He also announced the upcoming ordinations of Jozef Wroblewski, May 1, and Stephen Hero, June 29.
He encouraged the participation of lay people in the various Church ministries, particularly those involving healing, caring and compassion.
Though he made no direct mention of the controversial Bill 11, which expands the role of private surgery facilities in Alberta, Collins did say, "that's why to us health care is not to be bought or sold. . . . It is an extension of the compassion of Jesus Christ."
"We need not go far to find the Lord," Collins added. "He comes in our midst. He comes closely to us and he calls us to be Christ in this world.
"He calls our hands and our eyes to be instruments. . . . We as the Church are also the sacraments of Christ of the world. We are asked to reach out, let our words be God's words, our hands be God's hands. This is our mission."