Fruits of the Year of Faith just beginning, cardinal says

Cardinal Thomas Collins celebrates Mass in Rome in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Pontifical Canadian College on Nov 21 2013 Credit Andreas Dueren CNA CNA 11 27 13 Cardinal Thomas Collins celebrates Mass in Rome in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Pontifical Canadian College on Nov. 21, 2013. / Andreas Dueren.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto reflected at the close of the Year of Faith that many visible fruits can already been seen, but that the true depth of these will not be known until coming years.

With "the most important things in our life, the fruits are seen much, much later," noted Cardinal Collins in a Nov. 21 interview with CNA.

The Canadian prelate was present in Rome to participate in the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Pontifical Canadian College.

Retired pontiff Benedict XVI declared the Year of Faith from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013 to renew the Catholic faithful and to help restore God's presence in the world.

Commenting on the effects of the year in the Church, said that "it's hard to tell right now because we're just coming to the end of it," and that "it takes time," but "eventually the different things that are experienced will grow more and more."

"I think that's what we'll be finding in the years to come," reflected the cardinal, explaining that already "people have been brought closer to an appreciation of their faith."

As one who oversees the Canadian College of Rome, Cardinal Collins also spoke of the significance of celebrating such an important anniversary at the close of a year dedicated to the virtue of Faith.

It is "certainly" important "as a year of faith and a time where we think about studying our faith and also living it out," he observed, highlighting that "that's what people who come to study are meant to do."

The Pontifical Canadian College was founded in Rome in 1888, and is a residence for Canadian and Sulpician priests who come to pursue graduate studies in various universities in the Eternal City, and where priests prepare a license or a doctorate in one of the ecclesiastical sciences.

"It's not just an intellectual, gaining a knowledge of the faith," the Cardinal reflected, "but also learning how to really be transformed by an experience of Christ our Lord and then going out and serving."

The priests who study at the college he noted, are "sent to learn but also to experience and then to come back and evangelize. So that's the key thing about what they are doing here."

Cardinal Collins revealed that his diocese planned to celebrate the close of the Year of Faith with a special Mass held at the country's oldest parish, St. Paul's Basilica, in order to create "a great gathering of people from around the diocese."

Speaking also of the fruits of 17th World Youth Day held in Toronto in 2002, the cardinal stated that the effects after 13 years, are clearly visible, including an increase in vocations.

"We've seen a great experience of youth ministry, it's been very much strengthened," he observed, highlighting that "there's been a real strengthening of the Church and a real engagement."

The "involvement of people in different vocations," emphasized the Cardinal, is one example of this strength, stating that this "stepping forward" also "depends a lot on how you take part in World Youth Day."

"If you go just for the big celebrations it doesn't have much effect, but it's a long preparation before and then really engaging for years to come, but that really makes all the difference."

Turning to different challenges which the Church in Canada currently faces, Cardinal Collins revealed that the "great degree of secularism" is a particular concern, adding that "it may well perhaps be even more secular than in the American context."

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"A lot of the popular culture is very much affected by a great deal of individualism and things of that type."

He also stated that in the area of the family, something that is "common to our Western culture" is "the difficulty" of "people making permanent commitments."

"That's true with the priesthood and religious life and that's true of the family."

"I think that it is very important for people to joyfully enter into the permanent commitments that can transform their lives and to do so with great joy and courage," he said, "living one day at a time in the commitment that they've undertaken."

"We need to help people to experience the joy of long-term experiences," the cardinal continued, stressing the importance of celebrating "anniversaries of marriage or anniversaries of ordinations" because "it's a great strength for the whole community."

Despite these various challenges, Cardinal Collins affirmed that the Church in Canada is "strong," and "very vibrant."

"We've had to open a major parish every year for the last 10 years and we've got 3 more on the way coming in," he explained, "so it's a very vibrant reality which, in our case, is helped also by a great deal of immigration. So that's a great richness as well."

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