VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals from 13 countries -- including three from the United States and Canada -- placing red hats on their heads and calling them to lives of even greater love and service to the church.

The churchmen who joined the College of Cardinals Feb. 18 included Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former archbishop of Baltimore; and Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.

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VATICAN CITY - Practically everyone knows two things about cardinals -- that they wear red hats and elect the Pope. But what other purpose do these men serve in the Catholic Church?

On the eve of the Feb. 18 consistory where Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to expand the College of Cardinals by 22 new members, the three North Americans among them shared some thoughts on the meaning of their new role.

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Other than doing a "happy dance," Canada's newest cardinal every bit resembled a man who just won the lottery.

"It's a tremendous moment of joy," said His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins after Pope Benedict XVI accepted him into the College of Cardinals on a sunny Saturday morning.

"It's astonishing and amazing to be there at St. Peter's, at the tomb of St. Peter," Collins said.

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ROME - With a wink and a smile, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins describes himself as  "imminently eminent."

That's eminent as in hours away from becoming His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, archbishop of Toronto.

In a ceremony that has been stripped of some of its pomp by Pope Benedict XVI, Collins and 20 other bishops will kneel before the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday morning to be welcomed into the College of Cardinals. The Pope will place a red biretta on the head of each new cardinal and give them an engraved gold ring as well as a scroll with the name of their new honorary parish in Rome. The ceremony will begin at 4:30 eastern time and will be available live on Salt+Light Television.

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TORONTO - Catholics in the Greater Toronto Area are being invited to pray and celebrate with Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins when he returns from Rome as Canada’s newest cardinal.

Collins and 20 other bishops were to be elevated to the  College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI at a Feb. 18 ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The local celebrations will begin Feb. 29 at a High Pontifical Mass at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral to be followed by a luncheon at a nearby hotel ballroom. Due to the space limitations at the cathedral, these events are by invitation only.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Cardinal-designate Thomas Collins will be elevated to the College of Cardinals by the Pope at a Vatican ceremony on Feb. 18. Amid a busy schedule as he prepares for that important event, he took time to speak directly to the readers of The Catholic Register by answering a set of prepared questions.

What has your life been like since the announcement on Jan. 6 in terms of public reaction and demands on your time?

In many ways, my daily life hasn’t changed since the Holy Father announced my appointment to the College of Cardinals. My schedule remains as busy as ever, serving the people of the archdiocese of Toronto. Of course, there has been some time involved in preparing for the consistory on Feb. 18, but nothing too onerous.

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Thomas Christopher Collins

o Born in Guelph, Ont., Jan. 16, 1947

o Obtained a Bachelor of Arts (English) from St. Jerome’s College in Waterloo, Ont., 1969

o Ordained to the diaconate, May 14, 1972

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Thomas Collins began his education in St. Stanislaw’s School in the shadow of Our Lady Immaculate Church in Guelph. High school was just across the way at Bishop Macdonell High School. At every stage, it has been a thoroughly Catholic education.

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o Member of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Permanent Council

o Chancellor, University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

o Chancellor, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto

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There’s a story that circulates around Guelph, Ont., about how Cardinal-elect Thomas Collins barely escaped Our Lady Immaculate Church with his life.

In one version, a 10-year-old Collins was almost killed when a statue of Our Lady came loose from the roof of the church and crashed at his feet. This somehow drove him into the priesthood.

The story is utter nonsense. We got the true story from the man himself.

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LONDON, ONT. - St. Peter’s Seminary in London has been a focal point for much of the life of Cardinal-designate Thomas Collins. He studied there before becoming a priest in 1973 and over the ensuing 24 years was drawn back to St. Peter’s in the roles of lecturer, Dean of Theology and, finally, rector until he was named bishop of St. Paul, Alta., in 1997.

Fr. Michael Prieur, now a professor of Moral and Sacramental Theology, taught Collins in the early 1970s and worked with him for 19 years at the seminary. Fr. Murray Watson, the current vice-rector and assistant professor of Sacred Scripture and Ecumenism at the seminary, was taught by Collins in the 1990s. The Catholic Register sat down with these two priests and teachers for their perspectives on the London years of the man destined to become Canada’s 16th cardinal.

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When Archbishop Thomas Collins becomes Thomas Cardinal Collins the principal colour of his vestments will become scarlet to symbolize the blood that a cardinal is willing to shed for his faith.

Scarlet was installed as the colour for cardinals by Pope Gregory X at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274.

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With his elevation to the College of Cardinals, Archbishop Thomas Collins has updated his bishop’s coat of arms. The biggest change is an emphasis on the colour red of a cardinal. Here is an explanation of the new emblem.

The motto “Deum Adora” (Worship God) is taken from Revelation 22:9.

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EDMONTON - On Feb. 18, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins will become the first former archbishop of Edmonton to be installed as a cardinal. Collins is no longer “our man,” nor is he the “man” of the St. Paul diocese where his episcopal career began. Nevertheless, we feel some stake in the man and are glad to experience a little of the reflected glory of his appointment.

A little known fact, however, is that Collins will not be the first priest from this archdiocese to wear the red hat. That honour belongs to Cardinal James Charles MacGuigan, archbishop of Toronto from 1934 to 1971, who in 1946 became the first-ever English-speaking Canadian cardinal.

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TORONTO - About 150 pilgrims from Canada will make their way to Rome to watch history unfold as Archbishop Thomas Collins is elevated to cardinal.

“Any time you can be part of history, people are going to want to experience it live, firsthand, to live it and breathe it,” said Neil MacCarthy, communications director for the archdiocese.

“It’s happened four times in the history of the archdiocese of Toronto. And only 16 times in the history of Canada.”

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