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In memoriam - Canon Francis Collins, MA, RIP

Canon Francis Collins, MA, who died on July 30th, is well remembered as parish priest at St Richards. Fr Kieron attended his funeral in his native Scotland, with Bishop Kieran and many friends.

Our Bulletin printed Canon Francis' last notes for his parish magazine at Weybridge, where he served after leaving St Richard's.

"Thought for the Week: Canon Francis Collins' entry in Weybridge Parish Newsletter, 22nd July 2007 -

"I have a truck load of pills to consume daily and my ailments are numerous and boring, and so it is awkward to wake up to Morning Prayer which has the opening antiphon 'Let us come before the Lord, singing for joy.' Joy is often hard to express after the various discomforts of the night and, like peace, joy is hard to establish. It is however, worth the effort. God has given us joy, and we are, by our baptism, children of joy and destined for happiness, and we must not let the darkness shut out the glory of God and the wonder of His Love. The Earth is the Lord's in all its wonder, and its beauty should be our delight. The darkness of sin and defeat have been overcome by the morning of the resurrection and God's Glory will prevail. Life is brief but Heaven everlasting bliss." (Canon Francis, Parish Priest at St Richards from 1980-89, died peacefully in Glasgow on 30th July 2007. May he rest in peace.)

There will be a memorial Mass in Weybridge shortly - details, including times of the special bus, will follow in the Bulletin.

On Thursday, 20th September, 'The Event' will show a video of the TVS Mass celebrated by Canon Francis and fellow priests, broadcast from St Richard's on 2nd February 1986. Julia, who has kept the archive tape, notes that there will be many familiar faces to see!

Canon Francis' Parish Priest at Weybridge, Fr Thomas Treherne, wrote this tribute, which Fr Kieron would like readers to see:
" It is fitting that Canon Francis should be with his family in Scotland when he died. His family meant everything to him and he was proud of his Scottish roots: born in Edinburgh, brought up in Glasgow. It was very touching that Fr Stephen, his brother, was able to anoint him.

Reflecting on his life, two things seem to emerge as being of the utmost importance to him:

FRIENDSHIP: Anyone present at his 80th Birthday party nearly 4 years ago would have been struck not only by the numbers, but by the great variety of people present: young and old, rich and poor, intellectuals and ordinary, simple folk, Catholics and non-Catholics, all representing different periods of his long and varied life (included among them former colleagues from Shell, ex-students from Guildford, and many from his former parishes), all claiming his friendship. Canon Francis was good company. He was wise, well-read, witty. He loved celebrations and throwing parties. But his friendship went much deeper than this. Francis cared for people. He took a genuine interest in them. ......

Francis made lifelong friendships because he kept in touch. He had a vast correspondence, especially at Christmas. He was generous to a fault, deeply appreciative and he always remembered to thank even for the smallest thing.

FAITH: This was the compass which guided his life. Most of us only knew him as a priest. His lived his priesthood, making no distinction between the secular and the holy. He was a man of deep prayer and at the heart of his day was always the Mass. The parish was his home and God granted his wish of being able to stay in the Priests’ House until the end. And since he was able to hear confessions on his last weekend in Weybridge, it could even be said that Canon Francis fulfilled his ambition of being able to ‘die in harness’.

‘No holiness without the Cross’. Francis’ health was on the decline before he ever came here, 9 years ago. Poor health inevitably means discomfort and the loss of independence and personal dignity. For someone who loved company, conversation and parties, his growing deafness and lack of voice must have been a great trial. And yet he accepted all without complaint.

At this time we feel a great sense of loss, but we should feel gratitude too: Canon Francis’ pilgrimage is now over. He has reached his true home. He is with God. Let us thank God for giving us such a wise, holy and very human priest, a Father and a true friend. May he rest in peace."
Fr Tom.