Toronto Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau will be part of Archbishop Collins’ entourage for the consistory at the Vatican. Photo by Michael Swan

Toronto well represented for historic moment

  • February 13, 2012

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.”

The pilgrimage group will include some priests from the archdiocese, women religious and lay people, friends and colleagues of the archbishop, along with Collins’ family from Guelph, including his sisters and other family from Ontario, said MacCarthy.

Jim O’Leary, The Catholic Register’s publisher and editor, will also be travelling with the group to provide a bird’s eye view of the scene in Rome on The Register web site.

All three auxiliary bishops from the archdiocese — Bishops John Boissonneau, William McGrattan and Vincent Nguyen — will be on the trip. Also in attendance will be Hamilton’s retired Bishop Anthony Tonnos and retired Auxiliary Bishop Matthew Ustrzycki, Montreal’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte and Archbishop Paul-André Durocher from Gatineau, Que. A delegation from the federal government will also be joining the pilgrims.

Aside from the roughly 100 people journeying with the archdiocese, there will be anywhere from 50 to 100 pilgrims making their own way to Rome.

“To journey with a shepherd of our faith is a moment of real grace, and as much as being part of all the excitement, it’s also a very faith-filled moment,” said MacCarthy.

There’s a wide age range, starting with youth in their early 20s right up to people in their senior years, he said.

“I think it will be a nice diverse group with different talents and experiences from many different aspects of life in the Church. And most importantly, different experiences with Archbishop Collins that will be part of that wonderful celebration.”


Along with attending Collins’ elevation to the College of Cardinals on Feb. 18 — which includes the presentation of the beretta and the ring — pilgrims will attend a special lectio divina with Collins at San Lorenzo, a small church just steps away from the Vatican.

“Since lectio divina has been such an important part of the archbishop’s ministry both in Alberta and Ontario, we thought that would certainly be appropriate,” said MacCarthy. 

Pilgrims will also have the opportunity to take part in courtesy visits open to the public to meet and greet with the new cardinals.

“It’s kind of a reception with all the new cardinals,” he said. “So all the new cardinals are assigned a particular space at the apostolic palace at the Vatican.”

MacCarthy will be posting on the archdiocese blog during the pilgrimage at

To follow The Register’s coverage, keep visiting or follow us on Twitter @CatholicRegistr throughout the week.

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