Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 3, 2004
Public speaking a valuable tool in ministry -- Collins
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
With an ability to speak well in public, a person has an invaluable tool with which to benefit his ministry, says Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Speaking to 25 Gospel Lights Toastmasters members and guests April 22 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, Collins said, "The ability to speak in public is a profoundly important thing.
"It is a way in which we can draw people together. It is a way people can be led to have a sense of vision, of direction, in which the whole community needs to move. It is something which can very much touch the heart and lead to individual action."
In all forms of work and life, and especially in the life of ministry, Collins believes a person should try to become more comfortable speaking in public.
"We are, after all, the followers of the Master, who is known as the teacher; the one who speaks and guides the disciples and one who is known most fully for the Sermon on the Mount," he said.
The need to be trained for public speaking is deep in Collins' heart. He spoke about his grandfather who, as a young man in Brantford, Ont., around the turn of the 20th century, went to a public meeting on the social issues of the day.
"He had just arrived from England and in a book he wrote, he described that as the meeting went on, it seemed to be drifting from point to point and nothing seemed to be happening," Collins said.
"At a certain point, he decided he wanted to stand up and say to the group that they needed to look at all the points. There were the needs of the community. So, he just gave a little speech.
"I don't think he had any formal training, but he was a person who constantly sought to develop more fully within himself the ability to communicate a message of hope to others."
The result of that moment was that he was asked to lead the group and help it form one of the first credit unions and cooperative associations in Canada.
"He spent the rest of his life travelling the nation building and strengthening the cooperative movement in Canada," Collins said. "It all came from the day he had the courage and the nerve to stand up and speak."
In ordained ministry, public speaking is very important, Collins continued.
"Years ago, I was briefly a member of a Toastmasters club. I was a seminary teacher in London, Ont. We had a young seminarian who had many gifts and qualities for ministry, but he had a great shyness and an aversion to getting up in front of a group of people and speaking.
"I said I'd go with him and we went together for a period of time. It was a great blessing in his life to be freed up with a willingness to speak in public," he said. "He was free to be able to play a role whereby the gifts the Lord has given to a person are liberated for the service of others."
Collins said those who are inarticulate are "not able to then reach out and be freed to let the gifts of the Lord come fully to the service of the community.
"That is one of the reasons why I am very supportive of having this section of the Toastmaster's club having a home in the Pastoral Centre."