Bishop Thomas P. Collins, MM

Born: January 13, 1915
Ordained: September 17, 1939
Died: December 7, 1973

Bishop Thomas Patrick Collins passed away at 7 a.m. at the Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, N.Y. on December 7, 1973. The bishop had been a resident of St. Teresa’s since June, 1972.

Bishop Collins, of the class of 1942, was born in San Francisco, California on January 13, 1915, the third oldest of seven children. He attended Sacred Heart Parochial School where, he said, he first thought of the priesthood. His interest in Maryknoll began in the seventh grade when he heard a Maryknoll priest give a talk on the missions. He began to read the Field Afar, paid a visit to Mountain View, entered in September, 1929, and after six years transferred to the Venard. He was ordained in 1942 and assigned to our new mission in Bolivia, the same year.

He began his rugged mission career in a typical Pando Barracca – Conquista – situated 150 miles from the mission center in Riberalta. Always one of the most popular men in the Beni, he was elected a delegate to the 1956 Chapter. In 1960 he was named Vicar Apostolic of the Pando Vicariate. On March 7, 1961 he was consecrated bishop in St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco. At the time, referring to the Indians and scattered settlers in the Pando, he said: “They are generous, hospitable people, very receptive to the Word of God. But priests to serve them, especially native priests, these are our greatest need.”

Shortly after returning to the Pando Bishop Collins made a canonical visitation of villages along the Beni River to confirm the people. It took him two weeks on a small river boat to reach the northern parts of the Vicariate, and another five weeks cruising downstream to reach all the isolated villages.

Sessions of the Second Vatican Council in Rome took Bishop Collins away from his mission temporarily. In 1967 ill health forced him to return to the States for medical treatment. He took up residence in Mountain View. The next year Pope Paul VI accepted his resignation as Vicar Apostolic of the Pando for reasons of health.

A Vigil Service was held for Bishop Collins at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 10, at the Maryknoll chapel. Mass of the Resurrection was concelebrated the next day and burial followed in the Maryknoll Cemetery.