Auckland priest Fr Patrick (Paddy) Collins died on Christmas Day and was buried four days later on what would have been his 86th birthday.
At a Requiem Mass at St Joseph’s church in Takapuna, Bishop Patrick Dunn described Fr Collins as “very much a priest in the model of Pope Francis, very much at home among the people he served”.
“Paddy, as we know, formed lifelong friendships with many people in parishes where he worked.”
Bishop Dunn listed the 11 parishes where Fr Collins had been an assistant or parish priest during his 60 years of ministry. The parishes ranged from Tokoroa to Kaitaia.
He retired to Devonport parish following his golden jubilee of ordination in 1997.
Bishop Dunn paid tribute to “the priests and parishioners from Devonport, who made Fr Paddy’s last 10 years, in retirement, such a happy time”.
The bishop also acknowledged that the Collins family in Ireland would be gathering the same day in Omagh for a Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr Michael Collins, Fr Paddy’s brother. They would also gather later to view a video recording of the Takapuna liturgy.
Bishop Dunn noted that Fr Collins had studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin, where he was encouraged by fellow student John (later Bishop) Cuneen to come to New Zealand. There was assistance to facilitate this.
Fr Collins had visited All Hallows for his silver and golden jubilees and went there last year for his diamond jubilee. But while in Ireland he suffered a stroke that left him unable to walk unaided and unable to swallow.
He suffered a lung infection a few days before Christmas and died on Christmas Day at Mercy Parklands where he had been in care.
But Fr Collins left one particular lasting legacy to Auckland diocese, Bishop Dunn noted.
“Fr Paddy in last years donated a beautiful stained glass window at St Patrick’s Cathedral featuring St Columba and St Peter Chanel — honouring the Irish and French missionaries who played such a key role in the growth of the Church in our diocese,” Bishop Dunn said.