Catholics need to show visible faith

  • November 2, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - In his debut Cardinal’s Dinner speech, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins called on Catholics to “follow in the footsteps of St. Paul” to discover how to be witnesses of the Gospel in contemporary society.

Before an audience of about 1,800 people in Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre on Oct. 25, the archbishop took his theme from Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that 2008 will be observed in the Catholic Church as the Year of St. Paul. Beginning with the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29, the church will engage in a year-long reflection on Paul’s life and teachings.

“We in our age are sent to engage a secular world that is at least as hostile to the Gospel as was the Roman Empire of old, and which needs a vibrant witness to life in Christ,” he said.

Collins explained that the archdiocese has already established a committee to plan how churches in Toronto can organize events to “deepen our appreciation for the example and message of the great apostle.”

He added that St. Paul is the patron of the first parish in the archdiocese. St. Paul’s Basilica was established in 1822 and will be the centre for pilgrimage in the community.

Collins lauded Paul’s willingness to confront the pagan society of his day with the Good News.

{sidebar id=1}“He did not retreat into the security of the inner world of believers, but entered into dialogue with the alien world of unbelief,” he said.

The archbishop said today’s Catholics need to be engaged wholeheartedly in mass communications media and culture. “We should also not be shy in engaging in the public conversation regarding social issues, and Christians need to be encouraged to be active in public service as politicians.”

Collins said today’s Catholics need to demonstrate hope and be ready to explain their faith. He said the faith should be visible in how Catholics live their lives as families and in the wider community.

The archbishop also reminded the audience that Paul was a man of prayer. He encouraged more attentive participation in Sunday Eucharist, in eucharistic adoration, Lectio Divina and other forms of community prayer.

Collins emphasized that in the Catholic Church, Jesus established a community of faith. “Being a loner is not a Christian option,” he said. “We are meant to live in community, and our faith finds its home within the family of faith that is the church.”

He encouraged parishes to display their love for all humanity by more generosity to the poor and active engagement in parish life through the contribution of “time, talent and treasure which are gifts of God.”

The Cardinal’s Dinner is one of the more visible displays of the generosity of the Catholic community in Toronto. Since its inception in 1979, it has raised more than $4 million for local charities chosen by the cardinal/archbishop of Toronto. Among the honoured guests at this year’s dinner were Archbishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to Canada; federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty; former provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara, and numerous representatives of local government.

(For the full text of the archbishop’s speech, go to the archdiocese of Toronto web site.)

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