Collins, James M.Died
Jesuit Father James M. Collins was born in Boston, Mass., on Mar. 7, 1925. He graduated from the elite Boston Latin School in 1941 and entered Boston College that fall but broke off his college education two years later to serve in the U.S. Army. The Army sent him to pre-med studies at Yale; when he received his B.S. degree in 1946, the war had ended. In 1947, he entered the novitiate at St. Andrew on the Hudson, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., taking first vows in 1949. He did philosophy studies at Weston College, Mass., until 1952; then taught chemistry during regency at Boston College High School from 1952 to 1954; and began theology studies at Woodstock College, Md. He finished only one year there, when the decision was made that he would continue his studies in India.
In 1955, Fr. Collins arrived at Loyola School, Jamshedpur, Bihar, at that time a mission of the Maryland Province, where he taught mathematics and theology while studying Hindi. A year later he resumed theology studies at St. Mary’s College, Kurseong. He was ordained a priest there on Mar. 25, 1958, and continued his theology studies for another year. From 1959 to 1961, he taught various subjects and served as dean at Xavier Labor Relations School in Jamshedpur. He did tertianship there (1961-1962), then returned to the Xavier Labor Relations School for three years as philosophy teacher and dean. From 1964 to 1966, he earned an MBA in finance and business administration at Boston College, after which he returned to the Xavier Labor Relations Institute, where he was dean for three years.
In 1969, he returned to the U.S., serving for the next eleven years in the Maryland Provincial Office in Baltimore, first as director of the international apostolate, then as Socius to the Provincial. From 1980 to 1983, he was Socius for the New England Provincial and director of the province renewal program. For two years, he was executive assistant to the president of Saint Joseph University, Philadelphia. In 1985, he began his long association with the Boston College Jesuit Community, serving first as treasurer and sub-minister, then as minister, prefect of health, and assistant rector. In 2007, he moved to Campion Center, where he lived until his death on Jan. 24, 2013.
Fr. Collins had numerous friends and admirers and could be hilarious company when you could get him to tell stories about his life as a Jesuit, though he was in some ways a shy man who could happily go by himself to a concert, an opera performance or steal away for a day spent contemplating the ocean at Cohasset. His idea of a perfect vacation, though he managed it seldom, was to spend a day wandering alone around Paris or Florence, ending in a café with a martini and a copy of The Wall Street Journal. He was respected for his business acumen, his generosity to fellow Jesuits and his skeptical wisdom about the quirks and oddities of Jesuit superiors and Jesuit administrative structures. His reputation as minister at B.C. was legendary. When he inherited a system of signing up for cars that aggravated everyone, he solved the problem by going out one day and buying 15 new cars. The office staff he worked with on a daily basis became his devoted and lifelong friends. Prayerful and reflective by temperament, his breviary and rosary were never far from his side. In recent days he had been fairly active, though he had increasing trouble with his breathing. On Wednesday he told a nurse at Campion that it was time and that he was going to die that night. Like a Celt of old, he took to his bed and died early Thursday morning.