Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario,
where his father was the circulation manager of the Guelph Mercury and his
mother was a legal secretary. He is the only son and the youngest of three
siblings. His childhood home was situated behind The Church of Our Lady, where
he attended and served morning Mass.
Cardinal Collins considered being a teacher or a lawyer but was profoundly
inspired by his Grade 11 English teacher, Father Newstead, at Bishop Macdonell
Catholic High School, who knowing him, suggested that he should consider the
priesthood. In 1969 he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (English) from St. Jerome
College in Waterloo. In 1973 he obtained two degrees, a M.A. (English) from the
University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Theology from St. Peter's
Seminary in London, Ontario. That same year he was ordained to the priesthood on
May 5, 1973 in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Hamilton, by Most Reverend Paul
While studying in Rome, specializing in sacred scripture and the Book of
Revelation, he received his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical
Bible Institute in 1978 and a Doctorate in Theology from the Gregorian
University in 1986.
After holding various academic appointments, in 1997 he was appointed as
Bishop of Saint Paul, Alberta. Two years later, he was named the Archbishop of
Edmonton. In 2001, while in Edmonton he was named Apostolic Administrator of
Saint Paul. In December 2006, he was appointed as the Archbishop of Toronto, and
installed in January 2007.
In 2007 Cardinal Collins became a ex-officio member of the Canadian
Conference of Catholic Bishops Permanent Council, the Chancellor of the
University of St. Michael's College and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval
Studies, in Toronto. He is the Chair of the Board of Governors of St.
Augustine's Seminary, and the Chair of the Board of Directors of Redemptoris
Mater Missionary Seminary, Catholic Charities and Catholic Cemeteries and is a
Trustee of ShareLife's Advisory Board. In 2008, Cardinal Collins was elected
President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
During his time thus far in Toronto, Cardinal Collins has served the global
church through his membership with the Pontifical Council for Social
Communications, Congregation for Catholic Education and Commission of Cardinals
for oversight of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR). He has
participated in the Synod on the Eucharist, and the Synod on the Middle East,
served as an Apostolic Visitor in Ireland and also as the Delegate of the
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for Anglicanorum Coetibus.
On January 6, 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI announced the
appointment of Cardinal Collins to the College of Cardinals. He was elevated to
the College of Cardinals as Cardinal Priest of San Patrizio on February 18,
Author of numerous publications, pastoral letters and reflections.
The motto "Deum Adora" (Worship God) is taken from Revelation 22:9.
When St. John seeks to worship the angel who has shown him the great
visions of the book, the angel rebukes him: "Worship God." It is God who
claims our adoration and loyalty, in worship and in action. St. Thomas
More expressed this when in his last words before martyrdom he said: "I
die the king's good servant, but God's first." Our priorities in life
must be clear and determined by our adoration of the Lord.
The shield with a gold cross on a red background is based on that of
St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont., where Cardinal Collins studied,
lectured and was eventually Dean of Theology and Rector. The Alpha and
Omega recall Revelation 22:13, where Jesus says, "I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." The open
Bible and the chalice represent the two great ways in which we
experience Jesus in the Church, in Word and Sacrament.
The symbol above the coat of arms of a red galero (wide-brimmed hat)
with 15 tassels on each side, is a widely-recognized indication of a
cardinal, commemorating the tradition (prior to Second Vatican Council)
of the Pope's presentation of a red tasseled galero to new cardinals.
The golden metropolitan cross behind the shield signifies Cardinal
Collins' position overseeing an archdiocese (a metropolitan see).