On the morning of January 6, 2012 Pope Benedict XVI announced that my boss, Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, would be elevated to the College of Cardinals. I felt the wonderful buzz this circumstance was sure to create among my colleagues, the clergy, and Catholics across Canada. I would be a unique witness to Thomas Cardinal Collins becoming our 4th cardinal in Toronto’s diocesan history (McGuigan, Carter, Ambrozic being the other three) and 16th in Canadian history.
On such an occasion foremost in my mind are the many requests for information sure to flood my department. My staff and I reviewed consistory protocol and diocesan “Cardinal” history in a hurry. Priorities on our desks would be pushed aside for the foreseeable future.
We participated in the archdiocesan outreach program celebrating this unique moment in our diocesan life.
We prepared offices and departments directly involved for the transfer of records relating to the event. We made notes, many notes on what we witnessed ensuring the archival record will be deposited in its entirety and that includes the electronic record so prevalent today. We made sure the Maple Leafs hockey jersey worn by His Eminence in St Peter’s Square during consistory week graced my office sooner than later. Not an easy thing being a long time Sabres fan. Our archival minds snuffed my hockey heart. We prepared for records series relating to His Eminence’s new Vatican responsibilities.
We provided liturgical garb for the new Cardinal and supervised alterations. Reusing is always a good thing for some archival collections such as textiles. Tailoring may be part of the archivist’s job description.
My staff and I lived the experience up close and personal with privilege and pride. The delightful anecdotes and records relating to Cardinal Collins will be added to the institutional memory. Their preservation allows historians to bear witness despite the passage of time and is sure to be a testament to a most deserving and wonderful Bishop.
Marc Lerman, Director
Archives of the RC Archdiocese of Toronto