Collins, Father Joseph

1975, January 23

Date of Birth: 1897, September 7

Joseph Collins was born in Waseca, Minnesota, on September 7, 1897. From 1905 to 1916 he attended local schools, and from 1916 to 1918 he was at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota. He took his Philosophy in St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. From there he went to the North American College in Rome. In Rome he received his S.T.B. in 1921, his S.T.L. in 1923, and his S.T.D. in 1924. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1924.

On his return to the United States, Father Collins served briefly as pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Spring Valley, Minnesota, in the Diocese of Winona. From 1925 to 1930 he taught at St. Mary’s College and at the College of St. Teresa, both in Winona. While teaching in Winona, Father Collins earned his M.A. at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1928. Leaving Winona, Father Collins came to Baltimore for higher studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He made his residence at St. Mary’s Seminary, Roland Park. In 1931, still working toward his Ph.D. at Hopkins, he became an instructor at Notre Dame College in Baltimore, and also at the Roland Park seminary, where he taught Catechetics. In 1933, Father Collins moved to the Sulpician Seminary (Theological College) at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He taught Fundamental Moral.

He was awarded his Ph.D. by Hopkins in 1934. In the same year he became Acting President of the Basselin Foundation until Father Jepson returned in 1935. In that year Father Collins was inscribed as a Sulpician though he was not required to make Solitude.

Father Collins spent the rest of his life in Washington. He was a member of both the faculty of the Sulpician Seminary and the faculty of The Catholic University of America. In addition to his teaching he was, starting in 1937, Vice-president of the Divinity College and, at various times, Prefect of several of its halls. His major work was in Catechetics, and he wrote a number of articles and books on that subject. In 1937 he was one of the pioneers of the Confraternity of the Christian Doctrine. From 1942 to 1968 he was Director of the National Center of Religious Education. In 1964 he was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal by Pope Paul VI. In 1965 he received the Bene Merenti Medal. After his retirement as Director of the National Center of Religious Education, he served the center as a consultant. He died of a heart attack on January 23, 1975.

Adapted from Father Collins’ “Personal Data” sheet, from The Voice, and from other data supplied by Father John Bowen.