Father knew best when it came to the priesthood calling

September 27, 2011

HOUSTON – Growing up in a home with seven other boys can be challenging for anyone. 
It’s challenging for any parent from the minute they wake up to bed time. What made it tolerable for Father Kevin Collins, O.M.I was the love his parents had for the Catholic Church. Before starting his family, Frank, Father Collins’ father, considered answering the call to the priesthood. When that didn’t happen he made sure his family would be deeply rooted in the Catholic faith. 
Considering how busy and somewhat complicated Father Collins’ schedule growing up in a large family, dealing with day-to-day parish life on top of preparing for a centennial celebration at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is a walk in the park. We sat down with the Oblate of Mary Immaculate and talked vocations and the upcoming centennial festivities in mid-October.

Texas Catholic Herald: What made you decide to answer the call to the priesthood?
Father Collins: I have a great answer for that question, but it’s really not my answer. I heard this from a superior general of a woman’s religious order when she was asked what made her answer the call, she said ‘I’m still deciding.’ But really I decided to answer the call when I got to the point in my education when I had to make a decision. Because I had been with the Oblates from minor seminary, St. Anthony in San Antonio, through college pre novitiate and the next step would be novitiate and I simply ran out of time.

TCH: Who was the driving force in your life that made you consider the priesthood?
Collins: My father was very big on vocations. He had gone to the seminary and really enjoyed it, but decided not to answer the call. But being the father of eight boys and very Catholic, he was going to encourage us to have a seminary education. Not only did he encourage us, but anyone from my parish who wanted to go to St. Anthony’s. My senior year at St. A’s there were 12 boys from parish.

TCH: How many of the 12 were ordained?
Collins: You are looking at him. I was the only one that made it.

TCH: Any advice would you give a young man who is considering answering the call to the priesthood?
Collins: I think the question every young person should ask themselves when they are considering a vocation is this, ‘Can I see myself doing that?’ Because I asked myself that exact same question when I was at high school seminary where there was about 15 priests on staff — all of them in different shapes and sizes, with different personalities. And I assured myself by saying, ‘ “If he can do it, I certainly can too.’”

TCH: Moving over to the upcoming centennial celebration, how are you doing with the preparations for the big celebration?
Collins: This parish has a lot history. First of all we had a thriving grade school which closed in 1969. And then you have that second immigration wave that came into this area in the 1970s and ‘80s. So it went from an Italian, German immigrant area to a Hispanic area. 
But honestly we’ve had plenty of events throughout the year celebrating the parish. We had a bingo, a valentine’s dance, a pilgrimage to San Juan del Valle. 
What the committee ultimately wants is to see everyone come back that was a part of the parish when the school was around because the school we had goes back to 1912. So it’s going be nice to see all the aspects of the parish history come together.

Come and celebrate the parish’s 100 years on Oct. 19 with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo celebrating a 7 p.m. Mass. Open house, reception to follow Mass. For more information, call 713-921-1261.

First church building and rectory.

Immaculate Conception Church, 1957.
PHOTOS COURTESY of Southwestern Oblate Historical Archives