Mosaic of Saint Helen at the church façade

For Love of the Church

Posted : Jun-08-2022

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For Love of the Church is a book celebrating the life, teachings and achievements of Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, to create a “Catholic culture” actively engaged with the signs of the times. Following the “ecclesial approach” of Cardinal Collins, the articles in the Festschrift – a collection of writings honouring the Cardinal – provide “pastoral resources” that inspire creativity to pastors, lay pastoral workers and students of theology in the task of the new evangelization. This collection comprises essays by theologians on Church history, sacred Scripture, moral theology and ethics, as well as social issues.

Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, Rector at St. Augustine’s Seminary, shares his excerpt below.

It has been a pleasure and honour to serve as Rector of St. Augustine's Seminary under the leadership of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins. I share a few observations as we celebrate his 75th birthday. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Cardinal Collins, as shepherd of the Archdiocese of Toronto, serves God and the Church in the footsteps of Christ by preaching, teaching and courageously proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel in and out of season.

Cardinal Collins shows a profound understanding and has extensive experience of the Church in Canada, honed through many years of leading the largest archdiocese in Canada. As rector, I’ve always looked to him for wisdom and advice on matters about priestly formation. He is always ready at a moment’s notice to offer insights on the subject, fully aware that these men are the future of the Church — men who are our future priests and bishops.

The work of a bishop requires courage and stamina. The physical challenges of the office are remarkable beyond what most people realize. To name only some of his responsibilities, Cardinal Collins travels around the archdiocese, blessing and opening new churches. He serves on numerous committees. He is in great demand giving speeches and presentations on Church-related topics. He responds to countless letters and emails. He keeps track of eight hundred diocesan priests. Cardinal Collins accomplishes all of this and more.

The Office of Bishop is best served by those willing to devote their lives to this type of service but never promote themselves to make it happen. My interactions with Cardinal Collins confirm his selfless approach to service. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his flock,” and he lives by those words.

His Eminence has an absolute and undying love for Jesus and the Church. He serves with a smile, despite his demanding schedule. As ordinary of the Archdiocese of Toronto, he sees joy and resentment, conflict and dissatisfaction. He, on the other hand, never takes criticism personally or bears grudges. His mind is on the mission, and he leads with patience, discipline, endurance, and flexibility while remaining faithful to his calling of shepherding the people of the archdiocese.

My personal experience with Cardinal Collins confirms his selfless attitude toward serving. He does these things not on his own, but as a bishop and servant of the Church, realizing with St. John of the Cross that “the soul of one who serves God always swims in joy.”

Despite his demanding and challenging schedule, His Eminence serves with a smile. Those around him experience firsthand his profound interior life rooted in the love of God and neighbour. As one wise bishop who taught at St. Augustine’s noted, “How does one follow Christ if not on his knees?” For two thousand years, bishops have been among the chief defenders of the faith. Those who know Cardinal Collins well can attest to the fact he continues that venerable tradition.

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