'Honorary Irishman' takes on Cardinal-Priest role in Rome
LOCAL GROUP SEES CARDINAL COLLINS BEGIN HIS NEW ROLE AT ST. PATRICK'S
A GROUP of Drogheda people were in Rome recently in the lead-up to ceremonies in which Canadian Cardinal Thomas Collins, who has Drogheda links, took over as Cardinal-Priest of the Augustinian San Patrizio (Saint Patrick's) Church in Rome.
The elevation of every cardinal is marked by his appointment as titular parish priest of a church in Rome and Cardinal Collins was delighted to have been appointed head of St Patrick's. The cardinal was in the Eternal City to attend the canonisation of a new Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to become a saint.
Just ahead of the ceremony to take over at San Patrizio, he joked with Vatican Radio interviewer Emer McCarthy: 'I'm becoming an honorary Irishman'.
'I'm becoming something I always wanted to be but which I never seemed destined to be, a parish priest!'
Pope Benedict XVI appointed the cardinal as Cardinal-Priest of San Patrizio in February this year.
The Drogheda group, accompanied by Fr. Iggy O'Donovan, Prior of the Augustinian community in the Boyneside town, met up with Cardinal Collins when he celebrated Mass for them in San Patrizio church at Via Boncompagni.
The Mayor of Drogheda Paul Bell and the Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Veronica Cauley were also present and participated in the ceremony.
Cardinal Collins has already paid a visit to Drogheda. His great-greatgrandfather emigrated from Ireland in the 1830s. He is related to the Collins family who formerly owned the hardware store at Shop Street and who met up him when he attended the Eucharist Congress in Dublin earlier this year.
Of his visit to Drogheda, Cardinal Collins said 'I really found it very moving just to meet with and listen to different people'.
He spoke of the 'precious link' that Drogheda holds in his family's history. He said it was a long held dream to stand at the altar in St. Peter's in West Street, within sight of the shrine of St Oliver Plunkett. ' It was a special moment for me as I attended his canonisation when I was studying in Rome'.
Following the Mass in St Patrizio church, Cardinal Collins was presented with a photograph of members of the Drogheda branch of the Collins family.
Members of the Drogheda group thanked the Prior of San Patrizio, Fr. Jim Downey and his community in Rome for their hospitality during the visit.