Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 5, 2000
Collins finds year in Edmonton 'intense'
By By GLEN ARGAN
Archbishop Thomas Collins admits his first year as archbishop of Edmonton has been "rather intense."
"I've also found this year to be immensely enjoyable," Collins said in an interview as the June 7 first anniversary of his becoming head of the archdiocese approached.
Intense, indeed. Along with a whirlwind of speeches, Masses and other activities touching virtually every major group and parish in the archdiocese, Collins has made two major trips to Rome and several to Eastern Canada to fulfill his duties with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
And while he admits to feeling tired, the archbishop says, "I don't particularly feel stress."
"One of the great blessings of my first year is all the help I've received from the staff" at the chancery office, he says.
It was on Feb. 18, 1999 that Collins, then bishop of St. Paul for only 19 months, was named coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton. On June 7, Pope John Paul accepted Archbishop Joseph MacNeil's letter of retirement and Collins automatically became head of the archdiocese.
That was an event without fanfare - the fanfare came Sept. 13 when a Mass was held at St. Joseph's Basilica to mark Collins' installation as archbishop.
Collins said while he "can't think of any real surprises" he found after taking over, the archdiocese is "extremely complex."
"I have found it to be very demanding to keep on top of all the issues involved in being the bishop of a large diocese."
But rather than being swamped by the details of administration, he says it's important for the archdiocese "to advance on a wide front."
And so he articulates a vision for the archdiocese that includes a vigorous priesthood along with an educated and committed laity transforming society.
The archdiocese needs an informal pastoral plan that involves more than the plan for restructuring parishes, he says.
"We have to move outward on a basis of faith," he says. The emphasis must be on building foundations for the long-term and, in that context, working on the pressing issues.
There is a need, for example, to educate lay people so they develop their ability to evangelize. And there is also a need to seek vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
While there is a shortage of priests today, it is still important to always have one or two priests away studying because of the long-term benefits that will have for the local Church, the archbishop says.
Collins also emphasizes the need for "a balance of head and heart and hands." We must have a clear understanding of our faith, a strong devotional life and a commitment to social action.
"Head, heart and hands need to be integrated. Any one on its own is destructive."
Finally, we should foster a sense of the Church as communion, he says. "The Church has a breadth to it. I'm concerned when I see fervent Catholics angry with one another or not listening to one another."
Collins said he wants to work more on long-term planning and to do more writing.
He's also committed to continuing his teaching role, helping people to understand Scripture, "not in an academic way, but more in the mode of lectio divina."