As Cardinal Thomas Collins turns 75 on January 16, he knows that God has been with him every step of the way.
“There is so much to be grateful for, and certainly being called by our Lord to serve as a deacon, priest and bishop is central to my life as a disciple of Jesus.”
As he approaches his 15th anniversary as Archbishop of Toronto, it’s clear the Cardinal has created the conditions that will allow Canada’s largest diocese to flourish for generations to come.
Shortly after his installation, he asked for advice from the local priests, along with many others, as to which issues should be the archdiocese’s priorities over the next several years. The Cardinal says that this advice, “combined with a lot of prayer and reflection on the Word of God, especially the Acts of the Apostles, led to the Pastoral Plan.”
From vibrant parishes and formation for discipleship to caring for those in need and evangelizing the secular culture, the work of the archdiocese has largely been focused on these four important pillars under his leadership.
Cardinal Collins says he’s very proud of St. Augustine’s Seminary and its work as a model of priestly formation and formation for the permanent diaconate. In the past 15 years, 63 priests and 73 permanent deacons have been ordained with the help of the St. Augustine’s and Redemptoris Mater seminaries.
St. Augustine’s has also be a source of theological formation of lay people. An extension of that – the newly established St. Monica Institute will equip the laity to proclaim the faith in an increasingly secular society, Cardinal Collins adds.
Persecution of Christians worldwide has continued to be an inescapable reality during his time serving the Archdiocese of Toronto. But after a 2009 meeting with members of the Chaldean community, the Office of Refugees Archdiocese of Toronto was created to be part of the solution.
“I am grateful that since the days of Bishop Power the archdiocese has been a place of welcome and refuge,” he says. “Thanks to the work of our Office for Refugees and dedicated parishioners, more than 5,000 people have a new start in Canada and our community. It is heartening to know that generations of families will enjoy the peace and freedom of Canada. Closer to home, ShareLife every year allows us to serve those in need.”
Through the generous support of parishioners, the restoration of St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, offers “a powerful sign for our secular culture of the beauty that can lead even those without faith to recognize the truth of the Gospel and the call to holiness.” The same goes for St. Michael’s Choir School, which is currently fundraising for a rebuilding project that will serve the archdiocese for generations to come. Numerous other churches throughout the archdiocese have been built, renovated or restored thanks to Cardinal Collins’ leadership.
On a daily basis, Cardinal Collins says he’s inspired by the incredible people in our archdiocese – whether it’s our clergy, women religious, staff or parishioners that love and serve so joyfully.
“When I was ordained to the priesthood almost 49 years ago I chose as a motto a line from Psalm 100: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him singing for joy.”
There will be much more for the Cardinal to celebrate in the coming months. May 14th is the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the transitional deaconate and the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. January 30 is the 15th anniversary of his installation as Archbishop of Toronto. February 18th will be the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
We wish Cardinal Collins a happy birthday, and wish him all the best in his 75th year! May the Lord continue to bless him abundantly, as his ministry in the Archdiocese of Toronto has been a blessing to all of us.