Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 18, 2006
Collins to report to Pope Benedict
Archbishop will visit Vatican with other Western bishops
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
As the recently installed leader of the Edmonton faithful seven years ago, Archbishop Thomas Collins barely had time to catch his breath before he was off to Rome for his first ad limina visit.
Only a week before, he had formally succeeded the retiring Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.
Collins has now gotten to know the lay of the land and is looking forward to his return to the Vatican Oct. 2-15 along with other Western Canadian bishops.
"The ad limina visit is a very important event in the life of the Church. It's a sign of the bond of communion between the local Church and the universal Church," Collins said.
An ad limina occurs every five years, but this visit was delayed due to the illness and death of Pope John Paul.
The bishops travel to Rome in groups to report on the state of their dioceses. In Canada, the bishops go by region - about 20-25 at a time. The Atlantic, Quebec and Ontario regions have already made their visits.
"It's a prayerful two-week pilgrimage together to the holy city of Rome and to the tombs of the apostles. Limina means the threshold of the apostles," Collins said.
Successors of the apostles
The bishops celebrate Mass at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul and at the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major.
"As successors of the apostles we unite to celebrate the Eucharist."
During the two weeks, the men travel to the dicasteries (departments) of the Holy See that are based upon important themes, Collins said. For example, there is the congregation of faith that was once headed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The more ancient ones are known as congregations and the more recent are called councils.
The Holy See is divided into universal themes just as a diocese is divided into offices.
Six months before the visit, the bishops prepare a thorough "quinquennial report" comprising some 24 chapters outlining the general state of the dioceses. The report concludes with the bishop's overview of his diocese.
Collins said the Edmonton Archdiocese is doing well.
"We have challenges but the faith is strong. It's exciting. Making a quinquennial report you learn about all of the good things that are happening. It fills me with a spirit of gratitude," he said.
The bishops gather with representatives of the Vatican and discuss a variety of topics pertaining to the Church at the local level. Collins will lead discussions on health care and Catholic education.
During the ad limina, the bishops are called together for a presentation from the pope. A day or two before the visit comes to an end, the bishops individually spend 10 to 15 minutes alone with the pope.
Pope John Paul II
Collins recalled his moment with Pope John Paul as "a wonderful, moving experience."
"You enter the Vatican and travel through different rooms. I walked in and there he was, just sitting at his desk," Collins said. "He greeted me and wished me well. We talked a bit about Edmonton.
"He very much cherished his visit (in 1984) and he spoke of Archbishop MacNeil. He wanted to know how the young people and families were in Edmonton."
Collins met Pope Benedict during the Synod of Bishops last October at the Vatican. He is looking forward to seeing him again.
"I don't know what I'll say but it's going to be very exciting to have a period of time with him. I want to express, on behalf of the people of the archdiocese, our love and affection for the holy father. It will be great."