Humble repentance and holiness essential for bishops, says Canadian prelate

Archbishop Thomas Collins (center) presides over the ordination of  Bishops Bill McGratten and Vincent Nguyen. Credit: Archdiocese of Toronto.
Archbishop Thomas Collins (center) presides over the ordination of Bishops Bill McGratten and Vincent Nguyen. Credit: Archdiocese of Toronto.

.- Archbishop Thomas Collins of the Toronto Archdiocese ordained two new auxiliary bishops this past week, and at one of the ordinations he spoke on the importance of humility for prelates, saying that a bishop “always needs to recognize his own frailties.”

“The authority of the bishop does not come from within, from any personal competence,” said the prelate. “It comes from the Lord who sends him, and so each of us bishops must live daily in a spirit of humble repentance, asking the Lord to forgive our sins and to help us deal with our human inadequacies.”

Archbishop Collins ordained the 53-year-old Bishop Bill McGratten on Jan. 12, in the Archdiocese of Toronto's St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica with over 1,000 people in attendance. The prelate included the themes of humble repentance and episcopal holiness in his homily.

“If a bishop is to represent faithfully the one who sends him, and from whom he derives his identity, his life must be marked by episcopal holiness: he must personally know the Lord whom he represents,” the archbishop said Tuesday. “His real fruitful authority is not canonical, but derives from the degree to which the people whom he serves acknowledge that in fact their bishop loves Jesus and loves them.”

The prelate also made reference to the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his homily, pointing out a work of his called, “A Priest is not His Own,” saying “what Bishop Sheen wrote applies especially to those who have been entrusted with the fullness of the priesthood as successors of the apostles of Our Lord. We belong to the Master, and are sent out from him to serve his people.”

“Our life is not our own,” Archbishop Collins said.

Recalling the first retreat he had as a young seminarian, Archbishop Collins recounted the words of the priest who lead it, saying, “a priest cannot have an identity crisis, because a priest does not have an identity!” Though this is obviously false in one sense, said the prelate, since everyone has an individual personality, in another sense “it is profoundly true.”

“A priest, and especially one who is consecrated in the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ as a bishop, receives his deepest identity from his mission as an apostle of the Lord.”

Archbishop Collins also spoke on the necessity of “serene and joyful trust” in the ministry of the bishop. “A disciple of Jesus, and certainly a successor of the apostles, always finds reason for joyful serenity,” he stated and continued, “not in the illusion of optimism, for the storms are real, but rather in the vision of faith which reveals to us the ultimate reality of the providence of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ who sends us into this world.”

The prelate also ordained Bishop Vincent Nguyen on Jan. 13, Canada's first Roman Catholic Bishop of Asian decent and currently the youngest bishop serving the Church in Canada.

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