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|Bishop Edmund J P COLLINS MSC AM DD|
|Cadet ID: 653|
|Association ID: 439|
Bishop of Darwin
NSW Police Cadet to Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Darwin
What a remarkable journey:
Edmund John Patrick COLLINS was born in Braidwood NSW and joined the NSW Police Cadets on 21-4-1947, as Cadet No. 653. He is Association Member 439.
Ted’s father, James COLLINS, was a Mounted Policeman who served in country NSW. His registration number was 341. Ted’s mum passed away from a stroke when he was almost six years old.
After turning 16 years of age, Ted came to Sydney and joined the Police Cadets. He was attached to the wireless room and worked there for about ten months. He was then sent to Campsie Police Station and he boarded with Mrs. Vince in Beaumont Street Campsie. He paid two pounds a week board. His wages, with the living away from home allowance, were three pounds ten shillings ($7) a week, he also had to pay fees to Stotts Business College where he was learning typing and shorthand. He recalls walking from Central to the Depot on the way to work to save the tram fare. After about six months at Campsie working behind the desk with the Station Sergeant he was transferred to the Scientific Bureau and he recalls Norm Merchant being at that section at the time. His next position was Petersham Police Station then to Newtown Traffic Room where he typed breach reports etc. His next job was at the Vice Squad at the CIB where he typed the records on the various prostitutes and illegal gamblers etc. He was then 18 and his last appointment as a cadet was to the CIB Enquiry Office where he assisted with the paperwork of the Detectives from the CIB Central Office.
After the first two years he moved from Campsie to 99 Clovelly Road, Randwick where he resided with 4 cadets.
When Ted first came to Sydney he was a shy country boy and he applied to the Mina Shelley School of Dramatic Art and though he could not afford it he scraped together enough money to pay the fees which he said were reasonable. This gave him experience by meeting many older than himself and from performing in plays. He made friends and overcame his shyness. He also joined the NSW Police Choir and they gave concerts around the place under the direction of Richard THEW whom he describes as one of the best singing teachers in Australia and who was paid by the Police Department, These singing lessons came in handy for his work with the Police Choir.
On his 19th birthday, after having done 3 weeks training at Penrith, he was stationed at Clarence Street and he recalls making five arrests, working with a Sergeant on the first day. He spent five years at Clarence Street (No.1 Division) and a few months at Hornsby (No., 16 Division). He lived at Crows Nest. The majority of time at No.1 was spent in a special squad known as Pedestrian Traffic Squad. Working between Market Street and Martin Place. He recalls on one occasion going to Pyrmont Wharves re a dispute between a ships crew and the wharfies. There were 3 or 4 police between the two groups waiting for help to arrive, and it seemed like ages before other police arrived.
The hours worked there suited him as he was with the Choir and able to do concerts and choir practice. It also helped him play sports like cricket and rugby with the police. He played cricket with the No. 1 team and the Police Rugby Team in mid week competition. He was also able to play grade on Saturdays he played with St. George lower grades and in 1951 went to Wests and was fortunate to play a whole season in 1st grade. Even making the City Colts side and combined mid week sides. He was a front or second rower, and he loved his cricket and football. In cricket Jack Lindwall was No. 1 Division Captain. In the competition there were many first grade players.
He recalls the P.T from the cadets which stood him in good stead with Steve Ingles and Jim Grainger supervising.
Ted said that he would not have left the Police Force for any other reason except that he felt the call to become a priest. Towards the end of 1953 he went with a group of Catholic Police for a Day of Recollection at Kensington Monastery. The Priest was a Fr. Eddie Kelly msc and during the Day he spoke to him about his feeling drawn to join the Priesthood. He said that it was like indigestion, and it kept coming back. He finally gave in and resigned in 1954 and joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at Douglas Park in 1955. This was a big step as he had to go back to school and learn the Latin Language. He also sat with the leaving class at the Apostolic School and studied English and Modern History and sat with the first year and tried to learn French and with second year and tried to learn Greek. It was a tough year. The next year he went to the Novitate where he was cut off from the world for the whole year. then in 1956 he took his first vows as a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and went down to Croydon Monastery in Melbourne and studied for the Priesthood for seven years. Halfway through the seventh year he was ordained as a Priest by Cardinal Gilroy.
After finishing in 1963 he moved to Sydney where he was appointed to Randwick Parish even though he was doing a Pastoral Year which meant attending lectures twice a week. After 4 years at Randwick Parish he was sent to Hindmarsh Parish in Adelaide and three years later to Nightcliff Parish in Darwin. After one year there he was appointed Superior of the M S C (Missionaries of Sacred Heart) in the Northern Territory which gave him a big area to look after and he was appointed by the Bishop of Darwin to the position of Episcopal Vicar for Missions for the Diocese. These being very challenging positions as the Aboriginal Missions were at a critical stage. It also meant combining with the other churches in fighting the Government for more assistance for aboriginal people.
After six years he was appointed back to Randwick Parish where he was Parish Priest for eight years. He was also Religious Superior of the M S C Community at the Parish for the first six years. These were challenging but rewarding years and as he had been in Office for 14 years straight in 1986 they decided to send him to New Mexico to do a 100 day course in Midlife Spirituality and a holiday. He was due to start as the Parish Priest of Alice Springs on 1st July 1986, so he booked his trip to the USA and then across to London, Lourdes, the Holy Land and Rome and then back in time to take up office.
Then things changed when he received a telephone call one night to say that he had been appointed Bishop of Darwin replacing the Bishop who died on the 14thNovember 1985. It came as a shock to Ted but he accepted and decided to finish his planned trip and then get ordained Bishop on the 3rdJuly, 1986. All went according to plan and he has now been Bishop for over 19 years.
The Diocese of Darwin is practically the whole of Northern Territory with the exception of the lower portion from Eyres Rock to the South Australian border which is looked after by the Port Pirie Diocese. There is plenty of country to drive around and he has driven from Alice Springs to Darwin each way quite a lot. It also includes the Tiwi Islands and some of the islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is one of the largest Dioceses in the world.
There is a big Aboriginal population and quite a number are Catholic. This is a very interesting field to work in. During his time as Bishop he has been on the Australian Catholic Bishops Committee for Aborigines (13 years) and the National Committee for Missions (13 years) plus other National Committees. He ended up being Chairman of both these first two Committees. One of the highlights of the whole time was the visit of Pope John Paul II in November 1986 a few months after he was ordained as Bishop.
When the Pope arrived in Darwin the Apostolic Delegate informed him “ You are the Host Bishop and your place is beside the Holy Father ” he ended up riding beside the Holy Father in both the Pope Mobiles in Darwin and Alice Springs. He would have been the only Australian Bishop to have had that honour even though he was the Junior Bishop in Australia at the time.
In March 2006 he had to put in his resignation to the Holy Father as required by canon law, before his 75th birthday, he has now passed his 76th birthday and still his resignation has not been accepted and he is still serving as the Bishop of Darwin wondering who is going to be his Successor.