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CANADIANS-PALLIUM (UPDATED) Jun-28-2007 (710 words) xxxi

At the Vatican, a celebration of Canada Day -- a little early

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican was to anticipate the July 1 celebration of Canada Day with a ceremony highlighting the ministry and authority of five new Canadian archbishops.

The archbishops of "the true North, strong and free," were to kneel before Pope Benedict XVI June 29 and receive a woolen band symbolizing the responsibility they share with him of shepherding the church's flock. They were to be joined by 41 other archbishops from around the world.

The five Canadians are Archbishops Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, Alberta; Thomas Collins of Toronto; Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta; Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa; and Brendan O'Brien of Kingston, Ontario.

With more than 1.8 million Catholics, Toronto is Canada's largest archdiocese. Ottawa is the nation's capital, and Kingston is the oldest English-speaking diocese in the country.

According to Vatican figures, the five archdioceses represented by the new archbishops include close to 2.8 million of Canada's almost 14 million Catholics.

For three of the five archbishops, the ceremony may cause a sense of deja vu -- same wool band, different pope.

When a pope asks an archbishop to change archdioceses, the pope gives him a new pallium.

Pope John Paul II gave Archbishop Collins a pallium after he was named to Edmonton; Archbishop Prendergast got his first pallium for being archbishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Archbishop O'Brien received the wool stole after he went to the Archdiocese of St. John's, Newfoundland.

"Receiving the pallium is a wonderful celebration," Archbishop Collins told Catholic News Service. "I'm honored."

The archbishop traveled to Rome with his two sisters, and a dozen friends and Toronto faithful were expected to join him.

"There is no big diocesan delegation," he said. "But it is more than last time when my entourage was zero, 'moi,' just me."

Archbishop Collins said the fact that five of Canada's 17 Latin-rite archdioceses received new archbishops over the past year is "a fluke, a coincidence. It's a matter of demographics" based on retirement age.

Archbishop Pettipas not only will receive his first pallium, but will have his first personal meeting with a pope.

Just the thought of it is "totally awesome," the archbishop said June 28. "I've been to Rome twice before, and both times I went to the general audience and saw the pope from afar.

"I'm still a baby bishop," he said on the eve of receiving the pallium just five months after his episcopal ordination.

The symbolism of the pallium -- "of having sheep's wool placed around your shoulders" -- is another thing that awes him, Archbishop Pettipas said.

"One thing that is so rich about our faith are these symbols," he said.

But receiving the pallium is not the first time Archbishop Pettipas has received a symbol of his charge to be a good shepherd carrying his sheep. At his ordination Jan. 25, he said, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the Vatican nuncio to Canada, "gave me a pectoral cross. It is a crucifix and on Jesus' shoulders there is a lamb. What a powerful sign!"

The 46 archbishops from around the world scheduled to participate in the papal Mass make up the largest single group receiving the pallium in more than a decade. They include five archbishops each from Canada, Mexico, India and Brazil. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who was to be installed in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 15, is the only archbishop from the United States.

That there are five Canadians "is extraordinary," said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, head of Toronto's Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.

"It is a transformation of the episcopacy from coast to coast," he said. "It is a rejuvenation of the Canadian church."

As for the lack of fanfare with which the Canadians, except for Salt and Light Television, will mark the event, Father Rosica said it is simply part of the "unabashed simplicity" of the Canadian bishops.

Salt and Light will broadcast the Mass live.

Archbishop Prendergast was scheduled to arrive in Rome only one day before the Mass; he was installed as archbishop of Ottawa June 26.

Archbishop O'Brien will be able to wear his new pallium to his July 25 installation Mass in Kingston.


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