- IE IJA J/97
- 24 November 1910-12 August 1987
Born: 24 November 1910, Laragh, Swatragh, County Derry
Entered: 02 September 1929, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 03 February 1953
Died: 12 August 1987, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia Province (ZAM)
Part of the Namwala Catholic Church, Narwal, Zambia community at the time of death
Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03 December 1969
Early education at St Columb’s College Derry
by 1948 at Rome Italy (ROM) - editing “Memorabilia”
by 1952 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fourth wave of Zambian Missioners
Tertianship at Rathfarnham
◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Fr Bernard Collins (known to his friends as Barney) was born in the north of Ireland at Laragh, Co Derry. He entered the Society in September 1929. His course of studies was the usual one followed by members of the Irish Province. After the novitiate, a degree at the university in Dublin in humanities and a Higher Diploma in Education, philosophy in Tullabeg, and theology in Milltown Park where he was ordained on 31 July 1943.
At the university he took a classics degree, Latin and Greek, and when he did the Higher Diploma, he got a certificate to enable him to teach through Irish. He went to Rome for a number of years after his tertianship as an assistant secretary to the English Assistant. He added an extra language to his store, namely, Italian.
In 1951 he accompanied the first two scholastics, Bob Kelly and Joe Conway, and Br. Jim Dunne, on their way to the then Northern Rhodesia. The ship's doctor diagnosed heart trouble in Barney so that he spent most of the voyage immobile in the prone position including when going through customs. At the Blue Sisters hospital in Cape Town, he was pronounced healthy and free from any heart ailment. It must have been the sea air that cured him as they were at sea for two weeks!
From 1951 to 1960 he was parish priest in Chikuni. It was here his renowned proficiency in Tonga showed itself. His earlier linguistic studies stood him in good stead as he composed several booklets. In Tonga, he produced 'Lusinizyo', his pamphlet against the Adventists; ‘Zyakucumayila’, 61 Sunday sermons for harried missionaries; a Tonga grammar (now used in schools); a short English/Tonga dictionary; a translation of a pamphlet on the Ugandan Martyrs; and ‘A Kempis' which was written but never published. His knowledge of the villages and people of his time is legendary and he was always willing to give of his time to any willing ear that might wish to know the Chikuni people and their relationships. Towards the end of this period in Chikuni, he founded the first Pioneer Total Abstinence Centre.
From 1960 to 1966, he worked in Chivuna as parish priest and Superior and also taught the language to the scholastics, who delighted in relating stories of far off days when they struggled to master the prehodiernal past.
Barney moved to Namwala parish from 1968 to 1973 with Fr Clarke as his companion in the community to be joined later by Fr Eddie O’Connor (and his horse). From 1973 to 1977 he was parish priest at Chilalantambo and returned to Chikuni in 1977 to be assistant in the parish to Fr Jim Carroll. He went back to Namwala as superior and parish priest with Fr Piekut as his assistant. The scene changed in 1984 when Fr Frank 0'Neill became superior and Barney was the assistant in the parish. This was his status at the time of his death
It was during lunch at St Ignatius, Lusaka, on Wednesday 12th August that Barney began to show signs of not being well. By five that evening he had gone to his reward. The funeral took place at Chikuni with 29 priests concelebrating. Fr Dominic Nchete, the principal celebrant, paid tribute to the long years that Fr Collins had mingled closely with the Tonga people. Bishop Mpezele in both English and Tonga re-echoed the sentiments of Fr Nchete.
Fr Collins, a very unassuming man, had a deep knowledge of the Tonga people and was truly an incarnation of becoming all things to all people. With his fluency in Tonga, it was a delight to listen to him preach which he did in the grand manner. He had a sympathy and understanding of the mentality and customs of the Tonga that few from overseas have achieved. Here are the concluding remarks of the funeral oration: "We pray that Fr Barney may have eternal rest where we are sure he will be able to sit and speak with so many from Tongaland that he had sent on before him"
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 62nd Year No 4 1987
Fr Bernard Patrick Collins (1910-1929-1987) (Zambia)
The following obituary notice has been adapted from the one printed in the newsletter of the Zambian province, Jesuits in Zambia.
Fr Bernard Collins, born on 24th November 1910 in northern Ireland, entered the Society on 2nd September 1929. His course of studies was the usual one followed by members of the Irish province: noviciate (at Tullabeg and Emo, 1929-31), juniorate (at Rathfarnham, 1931-34) with university degree in classics, philosophy in Tullabeg (1934-37), regency in Belvedere (and Higher Diploma in Education: 1937-40), theology in Milltown Park (1940-44, with priestly ordination on 29th July 1943), and tertianship in Rathfarnham (1944-45). After two more years' teaching in Belvedere (1945-47) he was sent to the General Curia in Rome, where he worked as substitute secretary for the English assistancy (1947-51). There he also edited the Latin news-periodical, “Memorabilia Societatis Iesu”, which was a forerunner of the present-day “SJ news and features”.
In 1951 he accompanied the first two scholastics, Bob Kelly and Joe Conway, and Br Jim Dunne on their way to Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia was then called). En route the ship's doctor checked Barney's medical condition and diagnosed heart trouble, so that for most of the voyage and the passage through customs he lay flat and immobile. At the Blue Sisters hospital in Cape Town he was pronounced healthy and free from any heart ailment.
From 1951 to 1960 Barney was parish priest of Chikuni, and it was here that he developed his renowned proficiency in Tonga and wrote his Grammar, also “Lusinizyo”, his pamphlet against the Adventists. His knowledge of the villages and people of the Chikuni area were legendary, and he was always ready to give of his time to any hearer wishing to learn about the Chikuni people and their interrelationships. It was in April 1958, towards the end of his first time in Chikuni, that he founded the first Pioneer Total Abstinence centre.
From 1960 to 1966 he worked in Chivuna parish and was vice-superior of the community. He also taught the language to newly-arrived scholastics, who still entertain us with stories of those happy far-off days when they struggled to master the intricacies of the pre hodiernal past. During this time he was also a mission consultor.
From 1969 to 1974 Barney worked in Namwala parish with Frs Arthur Clarke and Edward O'Connor as his companions in the community. In 1975 for a short time Barney was parish priest at Chilalantambo. In 1976 he returned to Chikuni to be parish assistant to Fr Jim Carroll. During this his second spell in Chikuni, he had for some time Frs Joe McDonald and T O'Meara as collaborators. In 1983 he went to Namwala as superior and parish priest with Fr Antoni Piekut as his assistant. In 1984 the scene changed, with Fr Frank O'Neill becoming superior and Barney becoming parish assistant: this was his status at the time of his death.
It was during lunch at St Ignatius (Lusaka) on Wednesday, 12th August, that Barney began to show signs of illness. By five o'clock that evening he had gone to his reward. His funeral took place on the Friday (14th), with 29 priests concelebrating Mass. Fr Nchete as principal celebrant paid tribute to Fr Collins for mingling so closely with the Tonga people for long years. Bishop Mpezele in both English and Tonga re-echoed Fr Nchete's sentiments.
Fr Collins, a very unassuming man, had a deep knowledge of the Tonga people, and was truly an incarnation of the Pauline ideal of being all things to all people. He had a sympathy and understanding of Tonga mentality and customs that few from overseas have achieved. We pray that Fr Barney may have eternal rest where, we are sure, he will be able to sit and speak with the many from Tongaland that he had sent on before him.