Thursday we had the chance to conduct another round of media interviews with the Cardinal-designate, starting our day at the studios of Vatican Radio, in the very place where the late Blessed Pope John Paul II used to broadcast.
Cardinal-designate Collins was a guest on the In Conversation with the Archbishop show from New York's Timothy Dolan, himself in Rome to be elevated this weekend to Cardinal in his capacity of Archbishop of New York.
The two had a wonderful chat, discussing some of the joys of their work, their shared Irish roots, challenges facing the church and using unique modern communication tools to evangelize. A great chat.
We then made our way over the studios of RAI TV where the Cardinal-designate chatted for a program that will be used to profile all the new cardinals of the world. Then back again to Vatican Radio for a one one one with Irish staffer Emer McCarthy - it seems Vatican Radio was a bit of an Irish reunion yesterday.
Heading out to the terrace at Vatican Radio overlooking Castel San Angelo the Cardinal-designate Skyped with CP24 back in Toronto. Then on foot we made our way to St. Peter's Square while Archbishop Collins did a phone interview with Toronto radio host, Newstalk 1010's John Moore.
Then we asked the Archbishop if we could take a simple photo. One Archbishop, one Leaf jersey, one fun pic. He obliged with several great shots, we thanked him for his willingness to evangelize through the media and with sports fans and Emanuel and I headed back to our hotel to send out pics, edit and schedule some more media interviews.
Back in Toronto, our team was working hard on getting the shot of the Leaf jersey out to the media we also tweeted it to a few key contacts. We knew things were going well when the Toronto Maple Leafs retweeted it to 140,000 followers. Soon after, from Rome we started to see the photo popping up on news and sports sites across Canada. All in all, a fun opportunity for evangelization to the many Leaf fans out there in the Archdiocese of Toronto and beyond.
Friday in Rome involved a series of meetings with the College of Cardinals, both present and future, with discussions on the new evangelization, canonization of saints and other Vatican matters. We didn't see much of Cardinal-designate Collins till the evening but that doesn't mean there wasn't plenty going on throughout the day.
Our delegation of 200+ was complete - many arriving on flights today including a government delegation 24 strong and many others from Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. We spent a good portion of the day prepping for our first large scale Mass followed by a reception and dinner to kick off the weekend festivities. We also distributed the coveted tickets for the consistory.
Legend has it that at the last consistory more tickets were distributed than there were seats, leading to some less than Christian exchanges and upset folks turned away at the door, even when they had tickets and many standing in St. Peter's Basilica for several hours. Remember, these are not seats that say Row B Seat 3. We're talking general admission for up to 10,000 people so I suspect tomorrow may be the Catholic equivalent of releasing the iPad or Thanksgiving Day shopping in the USA - hopefully no one is carrying mace.
This evening we had a beautiful Mass at the San Lorenzo Youth Centre - a small and simple church, it's said to be birthplace of World Youth Days. Today, it serves as the home of the World Youth Day Cross - it's always great to see the cross again, as it brings back great memories of it traveling throughout the country leading up to WYD 2002 in Toronto. Ten years later, we're celebrating another special milestone in the Canadian Church.
Following Mass we made our way out to the more historic region of Rome, close to the catacombs for a family style banquet that included the entire group. Unfortunately, the guest of honour was told at lunchtime that the Vatican meetings anticipated to be completed by 5:00 p.m. would be completed at 7:00 p.m. After a reception and fellowship, we began our meal and welcomed Cardinal-designate Collins, Cardinal Turcotte of Montreal and Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher (Gatineau) Vice President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops a few minutes after dinner had commenced.
It was the last night we'll see the Archbishop in purple - red will be the colour of the day and Your Grace will become Your Eminence. We close the book on one chapter and begin a new volume. There was a palpable buzz in the room, some brief but most sincere remarks and a real feeling that you were part of something special and this is just the night before the big dance so to speak.
After declaring he'd be setting his alarm to "get me to the church on time" as well as recognizing that he is "imminently eminent", His Grace said his goodbyes (not before stopping by to complete an interview with CTV National News). All in a day's work.
Today an Archbishop, tomorrow a cardinal - all the while a man who has remained true to his routes, consistently reminding us that his ultimate goal is "to be a faithful and happy priest."
So as day turns to night and morning, new cardinals will fly into Rome, ready to spread their wings and share the gift of faith with their flock. There will be plenty of happy priests, lay people and bishops on hand tomorrow, ready to watch history unfold.
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