Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 25, 2006
Collins tells staff he's sad to be leaving
"I just loved being the archbishop of this archdiocese."
- Archbishop Thomas Collins
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Eager as he is about going to Toronto, Archbishop Thomas Collins says it is not easy to leave Edmonton, where he has spent the past seven years.
"Leaving is emotionally upsetting because I love the people I work with," a tearful Collins told the staff of the Catholic Pastoral Centre Dec. 18, two days after the Vatican announced he would become the archbishop of Toronto.
"I just loved being the archbishop of this archdiocese," he said. "Thank you all. It's been great. I really appreciate everything."
In the days after he got the call announcing his new appointment, Collins attended several meetings with Catholic institutions always thinking within his heart, "Gosh, it's the last time."
"It's really quite amazing," he said. "It's just kind of overwhelming but that's the way it is. I'm honoured the holy father has called me to the biggest diocese of the country but I just love being the bishop here."
Collins ceased to be the archbishop of Edmonton at 4 p.m. Dec. 16, automatically becoming administrator of the archdiocese.
"The basic role of the administrator is to simply maintain the diocese, keep it functioning until the new bishop comes," he told the Pastoral Centre staff.
In answer to a question, Collins told the chancery office staff to continue doing what they do. "If it's been approved, continue," he stressed. "Nothing stops. I say roll on, just keep moving on because, really, we can't let this kind of thing affect the running of the diocese."
Process already in motion
The process to choose a new bishop for Edmonton is already in motion, according to Collins. "I would suspect this is going to be a fairly short (wait)," he said. "The process is in motion already."
The archbishop left for Toronto Dec. 19 to familiarize himself with his new position and meet the people. But he was to spend Christmas in Edmonton with his two sisters, who flew from their home in Guelph, Ont., for that purpose.
As archbishop of Toronto, Collins will have three auxiliary bishops to assist him, each one covering one section of that large archdiocese.
"I'm very conscious of the change," Collins said. "In Edmonton, with 350,000 Catholics, it's still possible to have one bishop."
He has administered the sacrament of Confirmation to all children who have received it over the last seven years, he said. "I've been able to literally see all the people and to meet all the priests."
But Toronto is a different scope, he pointed out. "So I am going to try my best to maintain that close, personal contact but I recognize the reality that they have three auxiliary bishops that have to care for three regions.
"It is just not possible for me to be as close (to the people) as I was here. But I'm going to try my best to do that. I am going to have to learn to be the bishop of a diocese of 1.6 million Catholics."
"It's been a week since I got the phone call but I am still taken aback," he said.
Collins received a standing ovation from the staff of the Pastoral Centre.
From Toronto to Midland, Oshawa to Mississauga, the Archdiocese of Toronto is the spiritual home to 1.6 million Catholics, celebrating Mass at 223 parishes in more than 30 languages each week.