A new pilgrimage has begun for close to 200 Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Toronto and beyond. They're on their way this week to Rome to experience something that doesn't happen very often. For just the 4th time in the history of the Archdiocese and 16th time in Canadian history, a new Canadian cardinal will join the ranks of the College of Cardinals.
The Cardinal-designate is in Rome, a group of about 30 others arrived Tuesday evening and another 150+ will arrive later this week to help join in the celebrations and support Canada's newest cardinal.
In the coming days, in this space, through our website, Facebook, Twitter page and other mediums you'll be hearing more about this historical journey. We've got some interesting plans this week and we hope to bring you a sort of "virtual" pilgrimage bringing a taste of Italy back to our friends checking in from any number of locations throughout the country and around the world.
Our smaller group of about 30 represents a good cross section of the Cardinal-designate's experience to date: bishops both past and present are with us, including retired Hamilton Bishop, Anthony Tonnos, retired Auxiliary Bishop Ustryczki as well as Toronto Auxiliary Bishops Boissonneau, Nguyen and McGrattan.
The Collins family is well represented with about 14 family members joining in at some point throughout the week, most notably the Cardinal-designate's sisters, Patricia and Catharine.
Numerous priests from the Archdiocese of Toronto, about 20, will be along for the experience, if you include the half dozen or so currently studying at the Canadian Pontifical College in Rome. Add to that, clergy from the Diocese of Hamilton, London and Edmonton, Alberta along with Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal and Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec and we truly have representation from both sides of the country.
The federal government has done a wonderful job in recognizing the significance of the historical moment that will take place and, by week's end, we'll have an official gov't delegation of about 20 that includes mostly federal representation but also a representative from the Province of Ontario.
From the media and public relations side of things, we've got about half a dozen journalists "embedded" with us over the course of the week, with more expected to join in from foreign bureaus. Yours truly and Emanuel Pires will be working on the ground in Rome to help tell the story and Bill Steinburg, Denise Torres and Kristen Carey will be holding the fort in Toronto and working with local media requests both from Toronto and throughout the country. We had a great start this past weekend with a lengthy profile in Saturday's Toronto Star about Archbishop Collins followed by a piece on Sunday telling the story of the work of the Archdiocese as well as some of the challenges the church faces in today's world.
Before he left Toronto, the Archbishop did a final round of interviews Friday with Maclean's magazine, Guelph Mercury and Sun TV. Tuesday in Rome included a chat with the Globe & Mail and we've got lots of interest from the media on a fun initiative Wednesday, when the Cardinal-designate will SKYPE with high school students at his alma mater as well as Grade 3 students at Dufferin Peel CDSB's Holy Cross School in Malton.
So sit back, relax and enjoy as we do our best to bring a little piece of Rome to wherever you may be logging in from. Don't forget, our Twitter feed will be very active these coming days so if you're looking for more frequent "fixes", feel free to follow us here.
Please offer a prayer for all those entering the College of Cardinals this weekend and, in a special way, for the Canadian delegation heading to Rome for this historic experience. Know that your thoughts, prayers and intentions will be with us throughout the pilgrimage.
The whole experience started off with 20 pilgrims missing a connecting flight and spending an extra 6 hours in London, England. Apparently we were meant to evangelize beyond Italy:) After being up for close to 24 hours, the group heads for their beds tonight ready to recharge the batteries before meeting at 7:15 a.m. to head for morning Mass at the Teutonic College and then the Wednesday Papal Audience.
So as usual, the only constant is change, the only certainty is there will be new cardinals this weekend - the rest of it will unfold on God's terms. We're just happy to be along for the ride.
Bonjourno from Rome!
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