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Generous and big-hearted


Sr Jennifer Collins IBVM - Born: May 28 1934 | Died: November 29 2022

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Jennifer (Jen) was born in Ballarat, Victoria, the fifth of six children. When still a toddler the family moved to Yallourn where her father was appointed to an administrative role in the State Electricity Commission.

Jen attended St Therese’s Primary School and then boarded at Loreto, Mary’s Mount, Ballarat, where she completed her secondary schooling. She entered the novitiate in Ballarat in 1953 and was professed in December 1955.

A dedicated teacher, Jen was a sports mistress, school principal, wise counsellor, spiritual advisor, retreat director, community leader and loyal friend.

She worked in schools across Australia and served in Kenya, South Africa, Ireland and beyond. As well as being Community leader several times, she was a member of the Provincial Council for two terms and was Vicar for Religious in Adelaide for three years from 1997.

Possibly it is for her leadership work with young Religious in Australia, Kenya and Ireland, her spiritual direction and retreats that Jen will be best remembered.

She was a person who had great self-knowledge and personal insight and was a very strong character. After giving time to reflect and discern what she believed to be right, she would speak her own truth clearly, with confidence and courage.

Even if she knew that others may not like what she said or agree with her, Jen would clearly state what she believed. She embodied a maxim of Mary Ward, ‘Show yourself as you are and be as you show yourself’. Jen was generous and big-hearted and again like Mary Ward, ‘she did things with love and freedom, or she did not do them at all’.

Jen’s later years were spent at Mary MacKillop Care in Melbourne. Her life was difficult in recent years, yet she accepted her memory loss and physical diminishment with courage and bravery.

Her brother John relates that the second last time he heard her speak, it was to express the aspiration of Julian of Norwich, ‘All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well’. The last time he heard her speak – the afternoon before she died – she expressed her commitment to the process she was going through with one simple and clear word, ‘Amen’.


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