Fr. Chris Collins, SJ (Wisconsin Province)
Tertianship: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Entered the Jesuits: August 19, 1995
Education: University of St. Thomas; B.A.
Ordained a priest June 9, 2006; Omaha, NE
My name is Fr Chris Collins. I was ordained a priest in June of 2006 and am currently working as a parish priest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I was born in 1971 in Phoenix, Arizona and attended Catholic schools my whole life, including two different Jesuit high schools- one in Phoenix and one in Dallas. I spent my freshman year of college at Catholic University in Washington, DC and then graduated from the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota where I earned a BA in Philosophy. I entered the Society of Jesus in 1995 after teaching high school religion for two years in Winona, Minnesota. Since entering the Society, I have studied at Creighton University in Omaha, Saint Louis University where I earned an MA in Early Modern European History and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts were I earned a Master’s of Divinity and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology.
At the heart of my call to become a Jesuit priest was the uncovering of a desire deep in my own heart to offer all I had to the Lord. For a long time I wanted to serve the Lord and live out my faith in my own way, according to the conditions I set. This did not satisfy. In the end, what most frightened me about responding to this vocation from God is precisely what most attracted me. This ongoing surrender of my life to the Lord and to others in need, a process which is never complete, is where I find the most freedom and joy and exhilaration. I only get frustrated and unhappy in this life when I am refusing to go along with this basic plan of God to have me surrender all to his, to die to myself so that I might live in his freedom.
“I experienced great joy in giving my time and my service away to others…”
I began to discover this paradox of finding freedom in surrendering when I was a student at Jesuit High in Dallas. In the service requirements made of us, I began to find that I experienced great joy in giving my time and my service away to others who were in need, especially the poor. This discovery deepened radically when I spent the summer between high school and college in rural Ecuador working on a health project. I discovered in that service to others my awareness of the both needs and the beauty of the people around me in this world were vast. The freedom and joy I experienced in giving myself to those needs, to those people ultimately, carried over into a desire to give myself away to the Lord. This is a path that never seems to be completed but it is one that has served as a kind of bedrock for my vocation. This makes for a pretty challenging life, especially interiorly, but it is one in which I find tremendous fulfillment and which fosters great gratitude in my heart for being called into such a privileged friendship with the Lord and countless people of His.