Biographies

Sister M. Winifred Collins, MM

Born: August 9, 1904
Entered: April 30, 1925
Died: January 30, 1984

Today, we gather to celebrate the life of our dear Sister Mary Winifred Collins, who died at the age of 79 on January 30, 1984 at Phelps Memorial Hospital.

Mary Rogers Cecilia Collins was born on August 9, 1904 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Her father, Joseph, an immigrant from Scotland married Mary Winifred Rogers and they had five children: John, Margaret, Roger, Mary, and Winifred. The Collins family was a devoted one; they worked hard together in order that all could have some education. Mary Rogers Cecilia was able to finish grade school and attend New Bedford Vocational School. At age 15, she got a job and in this way was able to assist the rest of the family. She attended night school and took Typing and courses in Domestic Science.

Mary Rogers Cecilia entered Maryknoll April 30, 1925 and made her Postulancy at The Venard in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. A letter of recommendation said of her: “She deserves my highest commendation – her desire to give herself to God is the result of mature reflection and prayer she evidences in a marked degree all those qualities of soul that we expect and desire to find in those whom God calls to religious life.” In November 1925, she came to the Motherhouse for Reception and receive her Religious name: Sister Mary Winifred. From December, 1925 to June, 1926, as a Novice, she was placed in charge of the canning process which went on in the basement of old St. Joseph’s. Sister Jeanne Marie Lyons remembers Sister Winifred’s organizing 20 to 30 Novices and Postulants down in this underground, poorly-lighted place, and getting the work done. She was always generous, very energetic, and kind. She seemed to be into everything that went on.

In late 1926 her talents as an office worker were called upon as she took up various jobs in The Field Afar offices until June, 1931. In the 30s she was able to attend Pius X School of Liturgical Music and received a certificate in Gregorian Chant. She took part in Choir and could carry the melody sustaining and supporting everyone else. She made her first profession of vows on December 8, 1927 and final profession in 1930. She celebrated with joy both her Silver and Golden Jubilees as a Maryknoll Sister.

As Superior of the Venard Convent from 1944 to 1950 and at Valley Park from 1950 to 1957, Sister Winifred was known for her beautiful gift of hospitality. During the years of building the Novitiate at Valley Park, her talents were summed up in a letter written by Cardinal Ritter (Archbishop of St. Louis): “You were, during these years of your administration, indeed a worthy representative of your fine community and I shall always be grateful to you. I want to take this opportunity to thank you not only for your valuable work in helping us get Maryknoll of St. Louis founded but also for your many personal acts of kindness in behalf of Maryknoll toward the archbishop of St. Louis.”

In 1957, Sister Winifred returned to the Motherhouse and became General Procurator until 1961. In 1962, due to ill health, she had to curtail her strenuous activities, but, nevertheless, she worked diligently in our Records Department and in the Direct Mail Office. In February, 1976, her health became more fragile and she moved to our Bethany Convent. She was always interested in handicrafts, such as, crocheting, embroidery and knitting, and spent many hours at Bethany making beautiful things for the Bazaar and other Community projects.

Sister Winifred has been characterized by her friends as someone whom Mother Mary Joseph could always depend on whatever the assignment: Kitchen, Laundry, Office, or Administrative work. She did many different kinds of things and did them well. Her generosity and dependability were outstanding and she was always willing to help whenever and wherever help was needed. Her cheerful disposition and kindly manner brought joy and appreciation to all who knew her. She was a real friend, warm and loyal, with a compassionate loving nature – and always thoughtful of others.

During these days when we would visit her in the Nursing Home, she would say, “I pray for you every day to Our Lady of Guadalupe.” And now Our Lady has welcomed her into the presence of her Son. After 59 years of devoted service in Maryknoll, we can imagine great rejoicing in Heaven as Sister Winifred hears the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy I have prepared for you.” Mission in Maryknoll was her life and she devoted herself untiringly to it.

With our Celebrant, Reverend Dan Jensen of the Maryknoll Society, let us now join together to celebrate the life of our Sister and friend, who has reached everlasting peace with God.