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Collins, Joseph Burns


Leader in catechetics in the U. S.; b. Waseca, Minnesota, Sept. 7, 1897; d. Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 1975. After attending school in Waseca, Collins went on to study at St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota, the St. Paul Seminary in Saint Paul, and the Urban University in Rome, receiving an S.T.D. in 1924. He was ordained for the Diocese of Winona in Rome on May 17, 1924. Returning to the United States, he taught philosophy at St. Mary's College and the College of St. Teresa in Winona, 19251930. He did post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1934. He taught one year at Notre Dame College of Maryland and at Sulpician Seminary in Washington, D.C., 19331937. His acquaintance and association with the Sulpician Fathers at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore led him to join the Society of Priests of Saint Sulpice in 1935. In 1937 Collins began teaching at The Catholic University of America. He became a regular faculty member in 1939 and taught moral theology and catechetics there until his retirement in 1968.

Early in his career Collins became interested in the confraternity of christian doctrine as a practical solution to the problems and task of catechizing children and adults. In 1942 he became the director of the National Center for the CCD, a post he held for 25 years. Following his resignation as director in 1967, he remained at the National Center as Assistant Director and later as a consultant until his death. As director of the National Center for the CCD in the years from 1942 to 1967, Collins was an important and influential figure in catechetics in the United States. For 24 years (194266) he edited the bimonthly aid for catechists, Our Parish Confraternity. In 1964, under his leadership, the National Center began to publish the quarterly catechetical journal, The Living Light.

Collins authored or edited 14 books and countless articles that appeared in publications such as The Register, Our Sunday Visitor, American Ecclesiastical Review and the New Catholic Encyclopedia. Among his more important books are Kergymatic Renewal and the CCD, Updating the CCD High School of Religion, CCD Methods and Modern Catechetics ; and Some Guidelines for a New American Catechism.

His long and dedicated service in the field of catechetics was recognized and rewarded in 1964 by Pope Paul VI with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal. He also received the Benemerenti Medal in 1965. He was working on a history of the CCD at the time of his death. The first chapters were published in the American Ecclesiastical Review 168 (1974) 695706; 169 (1975) 4867; 237255; 610620; 690702.

[t. e. kramer]

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