Sister Mary Ellen Collins

The favours of the Lord are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted.”
(Lamentations 3:22)

May 2, 2018, Sister Mary Ellen Collins
in religion Sister Norah Mary
went home to God.

She was 83 years old and had been professed for 60 years.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was the eldest of the 3 children of
Irish immigrants, Michael Collins and Norah Fleming

Having no relatives in Montreal, the closely-knit family was deeply committed to helping other newcomers and to fostering relationships with those of Irish descent.

Mary Ellen attended Holy Family elementary School. After graduating from Saint Dominic’s High School, she worked as a secretary for four years. Then, along with a good friend and fellow classmate, entered the SNJM Novitiate, in July of 1956.

Sister Norah Mary was a born educator.  At Mount Holy Names, St. John Fisher and St. Francis of Assisi she taught mainly Grades One and Two.  A huge change took place in her life, part way through a year, when she was transferred to Holy Names High School, to replace a Sister who had been teaching business classes.  What a transition: from Grade One to Grade Eleven overnight!

She later taught at several other high schools in the field of business education. She became one of the founding teachers of the post-secondary “Business Centre” where she passed continued to pass on her values of hard work, honesty and professionalism. As a teacher, Mary Ellen was recognized as being very efficient, organized, and dedicated. She would accept no nonsense from her students, but they knew that she loved them, wanted them to be the best they could be, and was very compassionate when that was what they needed.

She “retired” at the age of 65 and became a teacher of Grade One students in the “Faith First” Catechetical Program at St. Monica’s Parish.  She had a great love for her students and delighted in their stories which she shared with the sisters she lived with. Mary Ellen was always very hospitable and welcoming to visitors, to those who came to meetings, to our Associates…  She loved to read and had a passion for shopping.

As an accredited spiritual director at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre she accompanied several people and supervised students attending formation classes at the Centre.  She also did volunteer work at the Centre’s library.
A recent visitor remarked: “Mary Ellen is the kind of person I hope I can be as I continue to grow into my last decades – full of life, still ministering to others, joyful, her humour still intact despite ailments, a really good listener.”

Mary Ellen died at the MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) shortly before the community celebration of her 60th anniversary of religious profession, an event that she had been greatly looking forward to.

Throughout her life, Mary Ellen was fascinated with butterflies – such a beautiful symbol of resurrection, of moving from death to new life. No doubt she is now benefitting from her own complete transformation.