Cardinal Thomas Collins celebrated Mass for more than 1,000 people at a Pontifical Mass Feb. 29 in thanks for his recent elevation to the College of Cardinals. Photo courtesy of the archdiocese of Toronto

Cardinal Thomas Collins greets his flock - "We must engage in our faith"

  • March 7, 2012

TORONTO - Like the prophet Jonah, Catholics need to become “boldly engaged” in a society that at times can seem “distant and antagonistic” to our faith, Cardinal Thomas Collins urged at a Pontifical Mass of thanksgiving in honour of his recent elevation to the College of Cardinals.

“We need engagement. Bold engagement,” said Collins, adding we can all learn from Jonah, “the reluctant prophet” sent by God to preach to the ancient pagan city of Nineveh.

St. Michael’s Cathedral was packed on Feb. 29 as more than 1,000 worshippers welcomed Collins back from Rome, where he had been made a cardinal 11 days earlier. He was joined on the altar by 28 bishops and joined in prayer by several hundred priests, nuns, deacons and political representatives that included Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Ontario lieutenant governor David Onley and Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

Jonah, said Collins, was comfortable living among believers but was reluctant to heed God’s call to engage a sinful world. It was only when he trusted in God’s plan for him, repented and became engaged as “the grumpy prophet” that he found joy.

Engagement with the world is no less important today, said Collins.

“If we circle the wagons and become comfortably enclosed within ourselves in an illusion of devotion, either individually or as a community, then we will fall back into the fault of Jonah before he met the whale,” Collins said. “Our life of faith always needs to end in outreach. Faith and hope reach fulfilment in active charity. We need to be engaged, and as a community of faith we cannot let our horizon be limited by our own comfortable world here in North America.”

More than 1,000 worshippers welcomed Collins back from Rome at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Feb. 29.

More than 1,000 worshippers welcomed Collins back from Rome at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Feb. 29.

Photo courtesy of the archdiocese of Toronto

Collins acknowledged that evangelization can be difficult in an increasingly secular world that discourages the voice of faith in the public square. But he said Catholics needn’t accept that narrow view.

“We need to make the voice of faith heard throughout society,” Collins said. “People of faith already do this most effectively through the massive contributions which they make to aid the suffering and the vulnerable. But we also need to be articulate voices in the public forum. Secular humanists do not have a monopoly on the democratic conversation.”

As archbishop of Toronto and now a cardinal, Collins has a vital role to play in jump-starting that conversation. But, above all, he said it is the mission of lay people to become engaged in “every aspect of this secular world in which we live.”

“Those of us who are ordained are called to offer spiritual nourishment in word and sacrament to lay people,” Collins said. “But it is they who are most immediately engaged in evangelizing this world by their direct involvement in every aspect of it.”

You can view more photos and coverage of Cardinal Thomas Collins activity over the last few weeks at the archdiocese of Toronto's tumblr page.

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