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Chet Collins to be Ordained to the Priesthood
On Saturday, January 12, 2013, Bishop Bernard A. Hebda will ordain seminarians Chet L. Collins to the priesthood for the Diocese of Gaylord. The Eucharistic Liturgy and Rite of Ordination will begin at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord. On the Eve of the Ordination, January 11, a Vespers service led by the seminarians of the Diocese will be held at 6:00 p.m., also at St. Mary Cathedral. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend both liturgies.
Chet was born on September 15, 1945, in Flint, Michigan, to Lewis and Gladys Collins. The family moved to Gaylord four years later, to a one room cabin on Big Bear Lake while building a home on the weekends. Each morning after dropping off his sisters, Barb and Joyce, at St. Mary School, Chet and his mother would attend the daily Mass at St. Mary Church located right next door. It was there, Chet recalls, that attending daily mass became a goal in his life. As a child, Chet celebrated mass for his congregation which included his grandfather and little brother, Vern, using his homemade altar set with statues and other religious figures.
Chet graduated from Central Michigan University in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography. Following his graduation, Chet embarked on a journey of discernment that would lead him to experience life as a seminarian for the Diocese of Grand Rapids (being that Gaylord was then in the Diocese of Grand Rapids), then to the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province in Pulaski, Wisconsin and ultimately back to Gaylord as a seminarian. In the interim he attended Mt. St. Paul College in Waukesha, WI, St. Meinrad College in St. Meinrad, IN and St. Johns Seminary in Plymouth, MI, but discerned that the Lord was not at that time calling him to priesthood. He also served five years as a United States Navy Officer, several years as a teacher, and traveled across the United States working several temporary jobs. By 1987, Chet had returned to Gaylord and began his career with the United States Postal Service. Chet remained in this position until his retirement in 2009, remaining active in the Church.
In May of 2004 he became a candidate for the Secular Order of Franciscans and after 18 months of formation made his profession becoming a member of Our Lady of Carmel Fraternity in Lewiston, Michigan.
On January 2, 2010, Chet and his mother took home the Vocations Prayer Chalice from St. Mary Cathedral that he began to reconsider his call to priesthood. That same day, a couple asked him if he had considered going back and finishing his seminary studies, which was exactly the reason I had signed up to take the Chalice, though I figured [the Diocese] would not even consider me because of my age, Chet said. That discussion led to meetings with Fr. James Bearss, the parish priest, as well as Fr. Don Geyman, the Vocations Director and Bishop Hebda. He was accepted to Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin that fall.
Chets father passed away in 1992, but he felt especially blessed that his mother was able to be present when Chet was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Hebda on April 28, 2012. His mother entered eternal life just two months later at the age of 97.
With the official schooling now behind him, Chet is looking forward to fulfilling his vocations call from God, the one he first felt as a small child. Though it has been a winding path, all of his experiences will help him in his priestly ministry. Contemplating his journey, Chet says, I have learned to put everything into the Lords hands and trust that He will lead me in the direction He wants me to serve Him. God makes us all different for a purpose and if we allow Him, He will make that purpose fruitful.
A reception will follow the Ordination in the Cathedral Parish Hall. Chet will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, January 13 at 9:00 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord.