.- Pope Benedict XVI appointed a new archbishop for Canada’s largest English-speaking diocese. Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton will succeed Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic as the spiritual leader of Toronto’s 1.6 million Catholics.
Collins served as archbishop of Edmonton for the past seven and a half years. Pope Benedict announced the appointment Dec. 16.
Ambrozic, 76, has served Toronto since 1990. He submitted his resignation to the Vatican nearly two years ago, but Pope John Paul II asked him to stay on past the 75-year retirement age for bishops.
Collins was born in Guelph, Ont., Jan. 16, 1947. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Hamilton in 1973 and was a professor at St. Peter’s Seminary, from 1978 to 1997.
He was rector of the seminary for two years before becoming coadjutor bishop of St. Paul in May 1997. Six weeks later, he became bishop of the diocese, replacing retiring Bishop Raymond Roy. In February 1999, he was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Edmonton and became archbishop by June, replacing the retiring Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.
During his term in Edmonton, he strongly promoted vocations to the priestly and consecrated life and saw the number of ordinations and seminarians climb significantly.
Collins launched numerous pastoral programs, including a training program for permanent deacons, perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a downtown chapel in a shopping centre, an annual Corpus Christi procession, and a monthly Lectio Divina at St. Joseph’s Basilica. Hundreds of people come to reflect on Scripture with the archbishop.
He led a restructuring of the archdiocesan administration, contributed numerous articles to the diocesan newspaper and brought in several priests from overseas to serve local parishes.
Collins will be installed as archbishop of Toronto at the end of January but an exact date has not yet been selected.
Toronto has 223 parishes, 833 priests, 111 permanent deacons, 715 religious brothers and sisters, and three auxiliary bishops.