Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
Collins grateful for his 10 years in Alberta
People, places events will stay in his heart
By GLEN ARGAN
- WCR file photo
Archbishop Thomas Collins blesses the hands of Father Gary Lee at Lee's 2006 ordination.
"Those were all I could do in the time I was here," he said. "Over time, (if I had stayed,) I'm sure there would have been more things I could have done."
But he views those accomplishments with a spirit of detachment.
"If anything I've done or encouraged, if it is really of God, it will flourish; if it's not, it won't.
"If there are any things that people have found helpful, it's up to them to make them flourish."
Collins continued his ministry as head of the Edmonton Archdiocese until leaving the city Jan. 18 to attend the funeral of Kingston Archbishop Anthony Meagher. After that, he took up residence in Toronto.
While it was his groundbreaking initiatives that drew headlines, Collins had great enthusiasm for the day-to-day activities of a bishop - visiting schools, meeting with various groups and confirming young people.
"I love Confirmations," he said. "I always love the part at the end where there are all those photographs - you see such love in the families. I always find that a beautiful thing."
He said he might remember dramatic events, such as the Corpus Christi processions in downtown Edmonton and the visit of the World Youth Day cross to the archdiocese in 2001, more than others. "Some things are more dramatic than others, but they're not necessarily more important."
From the day he became archbishop of Edmonton, Collins promoted vocations to the family, priesthood and consecrated life. But it was his trademark call for anyone interested in the priesthood to phone him at 469-1010 that many will remember.
"I love ordinations. I'd like to do one every day," he said.
"I'm happy with the quantity and quality of seminarians. . . I'm quite happy with the trend."
Seminary enrollment has grown sharply and he's even had the privilege of ordaining some of the men who have responded to his call.
"I'm happy with the quantity and quality of seminarians. There are good people coming forward. I'd obviously like to see even more. But I'm quite happy with the trend."
The stewardship program was also close to his heart. Stewardship, he emphasized, is not "sacred fundraising," but "deep engagement of all people to thank God for all the gifts of their lives.
"We are entrusted by God with our life and we need to thank God for that gift by generously using the gifts we have been given."
If more and more people had that perspective, the archdiocese "would glow with that engagement" and more people would be drawn to the life of the Church.
Collins will remember the archdiocese as "the heartland of Catholic experience" in the West. It is a complex diocese with many institutions, but also a rich history.
On the map of Alberta, one can see names such as Leduc, Morinville, Legal and even the Grandin LRT station.
"The visible presence of the Church on the map is a token of the deep presence of the Church in history."
Now Archbishop Thomas Collins is a part of that history. Gone to Canada's largest city, but never to be forgotten by those who knew him during his 10 years in Alberta.
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