Archbishop Thomas Collins, photographed in 2006 shortly before being installed as Archbishop of Toronto

Edmonton Catholics remember Collins as caring member of the community

By  Chris Miller, Canadian Catholic News
  • January 11, 2012

EDMONTON - Catholics from Edmonton are elated to learn their former archbishop has been elevated to the College of Cardinals.

The announcement that Archbishop Thomas Collins, now archbishop of Toronto, will be a cardinal was made at the Vatican Jan. 6.

After serving as archbishop in St. Paul, Alta., Collins was the archbishop in Edmonton from June 1999 to January 2007.

Current Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said he is thrilled with the announcement.

“As a brother bishop I know him very well and rejoice that the Pope has bestowed upon him this great honour,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “With many others I look forward to the wonderful gifts he will bring to the universal Church by his participation in the College of Cardinals.”

Rita Strauss was hired as Collins’ executive secretary in 2005.

“He was very caring, very competent. We were lucky to have him here because he had a great vision for the overall care of the archdiocese,” said Strauss.

Working for him, she felt confident that the archdiocese was in good hands.

“He was not demanding at all, a very gentle man and easy to work for. He always showed appreciation for everything I did,” said Strauss.

Joan Carr, superintendent of Edmonton Catholic Schools, said Collins had a strong connection with the school district while in Edmonton.

“He always wanted to be sure that Catholic education was front and centre,” said Carr. “In terms of our children, whether it was with the sacraments or special events in the district, Faith Development Day, Archbishop Collins was very much a part of our family and our community.”

Catholic education was of utmost importance to him, and Edmonton Catholic Schools always felt his support directly. Visiting the schools, he was always amiable and welcoming with parents, teachers and students, said Carr.

As chancellor for the Edmonton archdiocese, Fr. Greg Bittman worked closely with Collins on administrative duties. Bittman said speaking with Collins was “like opening up a treasure chest” because of the valuable insights and wisdom he possesses.

Among Collins’ contributions in the archdiocese were the establishment of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, archdiocesan stewardship committee, permanent diaconate, Greater Edmonton Alliance, Corpus Christi downtown procession and Phoenix Multi-Faith Society. He also launched a program of perpetual eucharistic adoration and established St. Benedict Chapel in a downtown shopping centre.

(Western Catholic Reporter)

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