Sister Teresa Collins, CSJ

Today we celebrate the life  life of a wonderful, prayerful, loving, kind, and gentle woman…Sister Teresa Collins, known in religion as Sister Teresa Michelle…a Sister of St. Joseph for 67 years.

Teresa was born and raised in Brooklyn, the fifth of seven children of Michael and Margaret Collins.  It was a warm and loving family.

Teresa was a woman of many talents and gifts, all of which she shared generously…but in a quiet, gentle manner.  There was never a fuss, but always a firm purpose and determination to get the job done and move on to the next project or task…but always with a twinkle in the eye and a big smile.  And there were many projects and tasks over the years.

With a brand-new degree from Brentwood College, Teresa began her teaching career at St. Stanislaus Koska in Maspeth where she taught the 5th grade.  She moved on to several other elementary schools while she was studying for an MA in French, which she earned from Rivier College in 1969.  She then taught at both Sacred Heart Academy and Bishop Kearney High School, where I had the joy of living with her for one happy year.

And then, a new vision and dream emerged and Teresa earned certification in spiritual direction and began a new ministry which had many expressions…a time in the House of Prayer here in Brentwood, formation work as the Director of Postulants, and then Youth Ministry at Stella Maris High School.  Teresa’s search for God was the thread that tied it all together and led her to spend some time with the Redemptoristines in Esopus, after which, to everyone’s surprise, she joined the Business Office at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn as Assistant Financial Manager…and the books were always balanced.

Based on that brief overview it is clearly an understatement to say that Teresa was a woman of many talents, and a generous heart and willing spirit.  We are all grateful for having known and loved her, but perhaps none more than her dear friends Maura Costello and Margaret Biolsi who have prepared some personal remarks which they have asked me to read. Here they are…
Elizabeth Hill, CSJ

We started out as a fivesome…Gerry Woods, Kathy Costello, Teresa, Margaret and Maura.  We traveled to Canada, to Cape Cod, and other places with much joy and spunk.  God received Gerry in 1983, Kathy in 2009, and now Teresa…the dance is a heavenly one.  Margaret and Maura now carry the precious memories.  Teresa had a great sense of humor.  We had many laughs while playing 25 on our vacations.  In our recent conversations on the phone we would talk about the Mets.  She was a fan but confessed that she preferred watching the Knicks basketball team.  They provided more action than the baseball game!

Teresa was an inspiration to us.  She was a spiritual person and her prayer life was very important to her.  She faithfully went on a directed retreat and attended many lectures and took courses on prayer and the spiritual life.  She knew her God loved her, and she responded with love for God.

Friendship deepened by the day…from 14 years old to 21 years old and on into maturity as Sisters of St. Joseph.  There has never been anything else that we would have wanted to be except Sisters of St. Joseph.  Teresa was the inspiration for simplicity, prayer, and openness to the moment, no matter what God sent.  Her quick wit kept us alive and laughing.  Her patience and ongoing suffering kept us in awe.  From the moment of the beginning of her illness she consistently pursued the more, our CSJ charism.  I will walk more…I will endure what comes.  Finally, abut a week ago, she said “I think I am dying,” Honesty was one of her hallmarks, and that statement proved it.

Family:  so beautiful as “Collins” underpinned her delight with life, growth, love, presence.  But her acceptance of the times she could not be present with family was so contemplatively real.  The deep love and detachment were simultaneous.  What an example!  Like John in his gospel wrote:  All the books in the world could not contain all that Jesus was…here we have a parallel.

Margaret Biolsi, CSJ and Maura Costello, CSJ

Sister Teresa Collins, CSJ died on July 26, 2022, in the 67th year of her religious life.

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