Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
'Phenomenal teacher' will be missed in Alta.
Local Catholics found joy in learning from their shepherd
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- WCR file photo
Archbishop Thomas Collins met with students in Fort Saskatchewan.
"You know, Archbishop Collins can quote from the Bible or from a saint (that lived) 700 years ago and apply it to the situation at hand. He's got a phenomenal memory. He's a very learned man. I'm sorry to see him go."
Why is Meerveld sorry to see Collins go?
"For selfish reasons.
"I believe that he was destined of course to go further because he is a tremendous teacher, a tremendous overseer and a tremendous shepherd. It's a sad day for Edmonton to see someone that has cared so much for us leave and go on."
Mauricio Amador, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish-speaking Parish, said people like Collins because "he's nice, friendly, approachable and easy to talk to."
Amador said people are grateful to the archbishop because he "did so much" for the archdiocese.
- WCR file photo
Archbishop Thomas Collins at the opening of St. Benedict Chapel in Edmonton's downtown City Centre East Mall Nov. 15. People loved to learn from the scholarly archbishop.
He mentioned the creation of the perpetual adoration chapel at St. Andrew's Parish, the opening of St. Benedict Chapel in downtown Edmonton and the creation of the diaconate program, in which he is enrolled.
"I'm very grateful to him that he gave me the opportunity to be part of the diaconate program."
Spanish-speaking Catholics are also grateful because Collins "helped us a lot," Amador said. "He visited us in all our celebrations; last year he was with us at least three times. So he has been a special bishop for us as a Spanish-speaking community.
"Am I going to miss him? Absolutely," Amador added. "I am especially going to miss the way he preaches. He is an excellent preacher and a wonderful shepherd.
"That's why I'm here. I want to show him how much we are going to miss him and how much we love him."
Leanna Hagman, a 29-year-old mother of one, and her husband Mark came all the way from Mayerthorpe to say goodbye to Collins.
"I came with my family to show our support for the archbishop and to thank him for his service and to wish him well in Toronto," Leanna said. "I enjoyed his joyful spirit, his sense of humour and the attention that he gave to each person he met."
Marlene Noster and her husband Ken came from Derwent to the farewell ceremony. "I find him a gentle, inspirational teacher, one that people want to model after," Marlene said.
- WCR file photo
Archbishop Thomas Collins posed for a photo with recording artist Janelle Reinhart who performed at the 2002 Toronto World Youth Day.
"He's compelled people to action. I know people who have become involved in St. Vincent de Paul after listening to him."
Marlene also loves the way the archbishop uses literature to make a point. "He uses it to invoke joy but he pierces through the ordinary with the way in which he uses it," she said. "He is inspiring. He uses good writers to express himself. When you love literature yourself it's a joy to listen to him."
Debbie Binfet, coordinator of eucharistic ministry at St. Joseph's Basilica, said Collins was "a very positive influence" for the Eucharistic ministers and for the basilica parish in general.
"He was easy to work with and his sense of humour was wonderful," she recalled.
"We always enjoyed whatever he had to say when he talked to us or when he celebrated the Mass at the basilica. He was such an eloquent speaker that I'm wondering who is going to fill his big shoes."
Added Binfet: "Even though we are sad to see him go, we wish him the very best in Toronto. I feel Toronto is only a stepping-stone for him because a man with such great capabilities I'm sure is going to go much further."
Collins posed for photographs and shook hands with hundreds of well-wishers at the reception. In a brief presentation he thanked people for their support and asked them to keep him in their prayers.
"I think Archbishop Collins was a breath of fresh air to the Archdiocese of Edmonton," said Clint Sopchyshyn, a retired Catholic teacher.
"One thing about him is that he was a very inspirational speaker. He motivated people through his words. He gave meaningful homilies that were to the point and people were very happy with the massage he was conveying."
In fact it was through his presentations that people should have realized that "he wasn't going to be with us for a long period of time because there were probably better plans or more plans for him in the Church," Sopchyshyn added.
"This is a man of great talent, he's a wise man, he is a good listener, he has his feet on the ground and he mixes with all kinds of people just like Christ attached himself to all kinds of people whether they were rich or poor.
"Thomas Collins is that kind of man; he mixes with all kinds of people."
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