- 31 December 1958 (Creation)
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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"
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Catechism written by Fr Bernard Collins SJ, published by the Commerical Press Ltd., Lusaka.
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