Toronto’s new archbishop was installed January 30 2007.

Toronto’s new archbishop calls Catholics to build a New Jerusalem

  • January 31, 2007

TORONTO - Toronto’s newest archbishop used his installation Mass Jan. 30 to call on his flock to help build a “New Jerusalem” on earth. While the real New Jerusalem can only be found after our death, we can strive while we are alive to live as if we are already among its residents, said Archbishop Thomas Collins.

“We are called to live as citizens of the New Jerusalem, long before we finally enter the heavenly city,” he told a congregation of about 1,200 people packed into St. Michael’s Cathedral.

“It is not for us to build heaven on earth, and attempts to do that have often produced more hell than heaven, but we know the standard that must guide us during our brief earthly journey, one rooted in the order established by God and found not only in divine revelation but also in the very structure and texture of nature.”

Collins, 60, officially became the 12th bishop of the Toronto, overseeing a flock of 1.6 million Catholics and 223 churches, 650 religious sisters, more than 840 priests and religious brothers and 136 permanent deacons. He succeeded Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, 77, whose retirement was officially accepted by Pope Benedict XVI just before Christmas.

His installation Mass was a formal ceremony, proceeding under the haunting voices of the St. Michael’s Boys Choir and concelebrated by almost 60 fellow bishops and more than 500 priests.

Among those concelebrating were Ambrozic and his fellow cardinals: Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Catholic Church in Canada.

Scattered among the congregation were representatives of civil society and other faiths. The Mass was later televised on Salt + Light TV and Vision TV.

Collins, formerly archbishop of Edmonton, was welcomed to the city by Fr. Michael Busch, rector of the cathedral, and also by Cardinal Ambrozic.

“It’s nice to have someone to succeed me in such a tremendous way and who has such knowledge of the Scripture,” Ambrozic said in a reference to the fact that both did doctoral studies in Scripture and taught at seminaries.

“I will try to give him advice only when he asks for it,” the cardinal quipped.

Ambrozic also used the occasion to thank Catholics in the archdiocese for their long support during his 31 years as a bishop, first as an auxiliary beginning in 1976, then as coadjutor from 1986-1990, then as archbishop.

He singled out permanent deacons for special thanks, saying that much work among the poor and needy in the diocese would not be done if there were no deacons.

He added thanks, too, to the laity, “the thousands upon thousands of lay people who serve in so many functions.”

Fr. Pat O’Dea, chaplain of the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto and vice-chair of the priests’ council, read out the letter from Pope Benedict XVI appointing Collins to the archdiocese.

He was followed by Archbishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to Canada, who expressed his own welcome and thanks to Collins. “My presence here today as representative of Pope Benedict XVI expresses the closeness of the Pope to your new archbishop,” he told the congregation.

The Mass was followed by a reception at the Sheraton Hotel. Over the following days, the new archbishop followed a hectic schedule of meeting with Toronto Catholics and leading worship with them. This included a Eucharist and luncheon at St. Paul’s Basilica for staff of the Catholic Pastoral Centre on Jan. 31 and, on Feb. 2 at the cathedral, the first of a series of regional Masses.

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