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tHomas caRdInal collIns

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Politics, education, moral issues close to his heart Continued from Page A7

Communist Party. That isn’t to suggest the Pope has set aside a gold ring and a red hat for a Bolshevek. But if it’s tempting to think of Guelph as a sleepy backwater where nothing happens, it’s good to remember that Collins’ home town has a knack for finding itself in the middle of the great, passionate debates of history. Collins’ uncle Joe Downey, in addition to his career as a newspaperman, was a Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament for Wellington South. His grandfather George Keen was a key figure in the co-operative movement in Canada — helping to establish grain co-ops out west and fishing co-ops in Atlantic Canada. “In terms of skills and even appearance, I think my brother most resembles (Keen),” said Cathy. “He was a very intelligent man, very learned, a person who has read a lot of books.” Keen was awarded an honorary doctorate by St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. Without him the Antigonish Movement might have been more a theory than a practical attempt to re-orient the economics of the 20th century. It comes as no surprise there’s a little politics in Collins’ background. When things began unravelling at the Toronto Catholic District School Board in 2008, Collins stepped decisively into the political arena. He did not speak softly or seek the hush of back-room meetings. Elected officials to a body with Catholic responsibilities were found to have used public funds for private purposes. The archbishop spoke up publicly. “We believe that the largest Catholic school board in the country has experienced a leadership crisis and consequences are required,” he told The Toronto Star. Politics is only part of how the Church is engaged in the world. In Toronto, home to refugees from around the world, Collins has sought to make the archdiocese more effective in reaching out and helping people

Difficult concepts seemed to always come easy to Collins. His seminary brothers often looked his way when trying to decipher difficult concepts. (Photo by Michael Swan)

whose lives and homelands have been stolen from them by defective politics. He established the Office for Refugees in 2008. In

2010 he began the process to sponsor an Iraqi refugee family — inspiring dozens of parishes across the archdiocese to set up

refugee sponsorship committees of their own. For Collins, politics are neither beneath the dignity of his office nor too far removed from ecclesiastical expertise. As a cardinal, Collins intends to continue to be heard by politicians about political responsibilities. “We don’t choose a party. But I intend to speak out on the moral issues in society,” he said after his appointment to the College of Cardinals was made public on Jan. 6. Nor is it surprising Collins was so forceful when the subject was education. This is a man whose first response to the world has always been to study it. He is the brother, the grandson and the great-grandson of school principals. “We couldn’t help but talk about education (around the dinner table),” said his sister. Following in the footsteps of Newstead, as a young priest Collins taught high school English. The right words in the right place were Collins’ first love. Anyone who has listened to him preach has also heard the man call up stretches of poetry from memory. It’s more than a trick he learned from Msgr. Newstead. Collins believes there are words worth holding in our hearts. He pronounces them in order to place them in the hearts of his hearers. Studying Old English at Western, Collins was so adept at the language his professor had him record language lab tapes so other students would have the sound of Beowulf in their heads. Fr. Dennis Noon was a year behind Collins in the seminary. Now the pastor at Our Lady Immaculate, Noon recalls how his seminary brothers would turn to Collins for a clear, plain English explanation of often abstruse concepts shovelled at them in convoluted, latinate language during theology classes. Everybody knew Collins understood the complicated philosophical terminology, but they admired him for his ability to make See A SIMPLE on Page A9

Collins busy beyond duties as archbishop of Toronto o Member of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Permanent Council o Chancellor, University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto o Chancellor, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto o Chair of the Board of Governors, St. Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto o Chair of the Board of Directors, Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary, Toronto o Chairman of the Board of Directors, Catholic Cemeteries, Archdiocese of Toronto o Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Catholic Register o Trustee, Advisory Board, ShareLife, Toronto

o Chairman, Board of Directors, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Toronto o President, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario o Board Member, Catholic Near East Welfare Association o Member, Pontifical Council for Social Communications o Apostolic Visitor to the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, Ireland, 2010 o Member, Synod of Bishops, Special Assembly for the Middle East, Rome, 2010 o Member, International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 2011 o Delegate of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for Anglicanorum Coetibus, 2011

Cardinal-designate Thomas Collins is chair of the Board of Governors at Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary, among other appointments. (Register file photo)

Profile for The Catholic Register

The making of a Cardinal - Thomas Christopher Collins  

A special pullout section of The Catholic Register.

The making of a Cardinal - Thomas Christopher Collins  

A special pullout section of The Catholic Register.