Collins, John, 1912-1997, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Collins, John, 1912-1997, Jesuit priest and missioner

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  • 郭樂賢神父

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19 January 1912-17 June1997

History

Born: 19 January 1912, Dublin
Entered: 02 September 1929, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 08 January 1944, Sydney, Australia
Professed: 05 November 1977
Died: 17 June1997, St Joseph's Home, New Kowloon, Hong Kong - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Part of the Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CHN : 1992

Oldest brother of Ted (RIP 2003) and Des RIP (1996)

by 1938 at Loyola, Hong Kong - studying
by 1941 at Pymble NSW, Australia - studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father John Collins, S.J.
(1912-1997)
R.I.P.

Father John Collins SJ., died on 17 June 1997 at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Kowloon. He was 85 years old and a priest of the Society of Jesus for 53 years.

John Collins was born in Dublin, Ireland on 19 January 1912 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1929. After his novitiate he did his university and philosophical studies in Ireland and then left for Hong Kong, arriving in September 1937. He spent his first two years here studying Cantonese. He became a fluent speaker and read Chinese with ease. He spent a year teaching in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.

In January 1939, while still a language student, he had a very significant experience, which greatly influenced the course of his life. He went with some other Jesuits to an area near the border to help look after 1500 refugees who had fled the advance of the Japanese army. This experience gave him a feeling for those in trouble and made him a patient, resourceful and well informed battler for a wide variety of the sick, the poor and the dispossessed.

He learned then to recruit others to work with him in his activities on behalf of fairness and justice. Many of his recruits became loyal followers, trusted associates and close personal friends.

In 1940 Father Collins left Hong Kong for Australia where he studied theology and was ordained priest in 1944. A long voyage across the Pacific and the Atlantic in the last weeks of World War II brought him to Ireland when he finished his ecclesiastical studies.

He returned to Hong Kong in 1946 where, apart from two years of study and numerous trips abroad in the course of his work, he remained until his death. These two years of study brought him to London University for Chinese studies and to the Philippines and Fiji to observe the Credit Union movement.

Father Collins taught for several years in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong and Wah Yan College, Kowloon. He also devoted himself to pastoral work outside the schools.

Gradually, however, Father Collins began to move into the area of social work. He became deeply interested in the Credit Union and was a founder and permanent adviser of the Credit Union League of Hong Kong. He would probably regard his greatest achievement in this work as being able to distance himself gracefully from the day-to-day running of the League. The followers he inspired made the League a real Hong Kong body and had much to do with spreading the Credit Union movement to other parts of the world.

By an almost parallel involvement Father Collins became one of the most practical advocates of the rights of the disabled to as normal a life as possible. He was a founder member of the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation. He was actively involved in the work of the St. Camillus Benevolent Association and held posts too numerous to mention in Local, Asian and international organisations for the disabled.

Father Collins was an internationally known expert on access and transport for the disabled. He advised Government in these two areas and strove to ensure that the disabled were given a chance to earn their living. He represented Hong Kong at many meetings overseas and received numerous awards in recognition of his work for the disabled.

In 1979 he became an MBE He was an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services and helped found the Educators’ Social Action Committee. He was a director and instructor of the Hong Kong Centre of the Gabriel Richard Institute which trains young professionals in developing confidence.

Father Collins was an Advisory Committee member of the Red Cross a former chairman and member for twenty years of the Family Welfare Society and a chairman of the International Year of the Child Commission. He also helped to found SELA (Committee for the Development of Socio-Economic Life in Asia), and organisation for Jesuits engaged in socioeconomic work.

Father Collins made innumerable friends. Being a perfectionist and relentlessly hard worker he knew exactly what he was talking about in his chosen areas of work. He was dogged and intelligent campaign for those who did not have much power and influence. He worked to ensure that not only were those in difficulty helped, but that they learn to help themselves and others.

Because he was a fighter he no infrequently clashed with other. However, his dedication and sincerity probably led most of his sparring partners to forgive him for his pugnacity. He also knew when a battle was lost. He complained vigorously regrouped and tried another strategy.

Father Collins kept meticulous files. He was proud of them and the were a solace to him. He worked for as long as he could. Progressively health made it impossible for him sally forth to pursue his numerous causes. He spent the last months his life in retirement in hospital, Wah Yan College, Kowloon and with the Little Sisters of the Poor Ngauchiwan.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 29 June 1997

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
John made his University and Philosophy studies in Ireland. He came to Hong Kong in 1937 to study and become fluent in Cantonese. By 1929 he was working to help the refugees, sick, poor and dispossessed, and he fought for fairness and justice.
1940 He left Hong Kong for Australia to study Theology at Canisius College Pymble and he was Ordained there in 1944. The last weeks of WWII saw him able to return to Ireland and Milltown Park and there he finished his studies.
He then went to the Philippines to observe the Credit Union movement. He was a founding member of the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation (HKSR) and the St Camillus Benevolent Association (now St Camillus Credit Union)
1979 He was awarded an MBE and was an Executive Committee Member of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services, and he was also in the Education Social Action Committee, Advisory Committee Member of the Red Cross, and was for a time Chair of the Family Welfare Society. He also served on the Committee for the Development of Socio-Economic Life in Asia (SELA - Jesuits in socio-economic work). He was involved in the building of a special Rehabilitation Centre for Handicapped.
In 1962 he began organising Credit Unions in Hong Kong.

In 1929, while a Regent, he had a significant experience which greatly influenced the course of his life. he went with some Jesuits to an area near the border to help look after ,500 refugees who had fled the advance of the Japanese army. This experience gave him a feeling for those in trouble, and it made him a patient, resourceful and well-informed battler for a wide variety of the sick, poor and dispossessed. he also leaerned then how to recruit others to his work on behalf of justice and fairness. Many of his recruits became loyal followers, trusted associates and close personal friends.
He taught for several years at Wah Yan College Hong Kong and Kowloon, and he also devoted himself to pastoral work outside the schools. Gradually he moved more and more into the are of Social Work. he started with the lepers who came to Telegraphic Bay in the late 1940s. He became deeply interested in Credit Unions, and he was a fouder and permanent advisor to the Credit Union League of Hong Kong. The followers he inspired made the League a Hong Kong body and were involved in spreading the Credit Union movement to other parts of the world.
By an almost parallel involvement, he became on of the most practical advocates of the rights of the disabled, involved in founding HKSR. In this he represented Hong Kong and received many awards for his achievements. As well as his involvement in the St Camillus Benevolent Association, he was involved in local, Asian and international organisations for the disabled and became a world expert on access and transport for the disabled.
Meanwhile he also was a founding member of the Hong Kong Centre for the Gabriel Richard Institute, which trained young professionals in developing confidence.

According to Freddie Deignan it was a deliberate decision by the Provincial of the day to release John from teaching so that he could engage in social woirk.

Note from Ted Collins Entry
When he returned to Hong Kong he was devoted to setting up the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (CMAC) and helping the marginalised in Hong Kong. In this he was following in the footsteps of his older brother John who had set up credit unions, and fought for the rights of the diabled.

Note from Herbert Dargan Entry
He freed Fr John Collins for fulltime social work, set up “Concilium” with Frs Ted Collins, John Foley and Walter Hogan. he also set up CMAC in 1963. He sent Fr John F Jones for special training in Marriage Life. He also sent Fr John Russell to Rome for training in Canon Law. he was involved with rehabilitation of discharged prisoners and he visited prisons.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 20th Year No 2 1945

Frs. J. Collins, D. Lawler and P. Toner, of the Hong Kong Mission, who finished theology at Pymble last January, were able to leave for Ireland some time ago, and are expected in Dublin after Easter.

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Collins, John, 1912-1997, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Hong Kong, 1926-1966 (3 December 1926-3 December 1966)

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IE IJA MSSN/HONG

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Hong Kong, 1926-1966

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Collins, John, 1912-1997, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Hong Kong Vice-Province, 1966- (1966-)

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IE IJA MSSN/HONG

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Hong Kong Vice-Province, 1966-

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Collins, John, 1912-1997, Jesuit priest and missioner

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IE IJA J/648

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