Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins will have to get used to being called, “your eminence” after being newly-appointed as a cardinal Saturday – but it’s something he won’t mind getting used to, according to the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Collins, 65, was among 22 priests who were officially appointed cardinals by the Pope during a special ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. He is the 16th Canadian to be so honoured and the fourth from Toronto.
“He was very excited, maybe a little bit nervous as well,” Archdiocese of Toronto spokesman Neil MacCarthy said in a phone interview while at the ceremony. “It’s an amazing scene to be a part of. It’s part of history. It’s not only a recognition of his own gifts and talents but at the same time, it’s recognition of the Arch-diocese of Toronto itself.”
MacCarthy described the celebration as “very joyful” with roughly 10,000 people flooding St. Peter’s Square. Those from the Canadian delegation lined up 3.5 hours prior to the 10:30 a.m. ceremony. Of the 22 cardinals who received their red birettas and rings from Pope Benedict XVI, only one from Germany was missing because of health issues, he said.
Collins hails from Guelph and was ordained as a priest in 1973. Pope John Paul II named Bishop of St. Paul, Alta. in 1997 and Archbishop in Edmonton two years later. On Dec. 2006, he came to Toronto as the city’s 10th Archbishop.
Collins’ 15 family members – mainly from Ontario – and others who have been touched by his work came from across Canada to attend the induction.
“They’re all here, beaming with pride,” MacCarthy said. “He’s got two sisters that have been by his side over the last couple of days and we have 215 others who have travelled literally from coast-to-coast.”
When he returns to Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral next week, Collins’ primary responsibility will continue being the Archbishop of Toronto, however, the call to cardinal will bear some extra duties, which MacCarthy equates to being “the Prime-Minister’s cabinet members.”
“In this case, they’d be a group of advisors that would be called from time to time for meetings and most notable responsibility is when a pope dies, they’re responsible for electing a new pope,” MacCarthy said. “There are 125 Cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope – and the pope usually come from the College of Cardinals. It’s a fierce group of leaders from around the world and now he’s part of that group.”