Sister Mary Ellen Collins SNJM (Sister Norah Mary) was born on September 15, 1934 in northeast Montreal, the eldest of three. The Collins family lived in Holy Family Parish.
She attended Holy Family elementary school run by the Sisters of Ste. Ann and graduated from high school in 1952 from St. Dominic’s Academy run by the Holy Names Sisters.
She worked for 4 years as a secretary at Aviation Electric Ltd. in Ville St. Laurent, before entering the SNJM Novitiate in Montreal in 1956. During her 42 years as an educator, she taught at the following elementary schools: St. Dominic’s, St. Aloysius, St. John Fisher, Mount Holy Names, then a private SNJM boarding school in Outremont), and St. Francis of Assisi in St. Lambert. She also taught at the following High Schools: Holy Names High, Monsignor Harold Doran, Dunton, Vincent Massey and Lester B. Pearson. She was a founder of the JFK Business Career Center, located at John F. Kennedy HS. She retired in 1999.
Collins has also been a spiritual director for more than 20 years. “This is a very humbling ministry and I rely on the Holy Spirit,” says Collins, who received her training at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre of Montreal. She is also on the team of Montreal Directed Retreats that offers 6 personally directed Scripture-based retreats per year.
Since September 2003, she has also been volunteering, two days a week, in the library at the Ignatian Spirituality Center library twice weekly. She created a data base, entering the titles of more than 3000 books and numerous periodicals.
On top of all that, for the past four years she has volunteered as a catechist with the Faith First Program at St. Monica Parish.
Collins lives with a small community at Marylrose Residence that also houses the SNJM Centre in the Snowdon area of Montreal. She crochets, knits and loves to shop.
Among her favorite passages is: “The favours of the Lord are not exhausted . . . they are renewed each morning.” (Lam. 3:22, 24)
(Reprinted with permission from the “Catholic Times” October 2008)