Ordained in 1961, Father William A. Collins imagined he would always be a parish priest.
After seven years as associate pastor of St. Agnes in Catonsville, however, Father Collins started to walk another path. He researched a marriage case that involved international boundaries, determination that ultimately led to a 40-year career in the Office of the Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The Adjutant Judicial Vicar is retiring March 17.
“I’ve often said that I wish in my first seven years as a parish priest I knew what I learned from working on the tribunal,” Father Collins said, “so that I would have been a much better help to people in their problems.”
The 74-year-old Baltimore native attended the parish school at St. Dominic in Hamilton. As a student there, Father Collins said he knew that he wanted to become a priest. He attended St. Charles College and St. Mary’s Seminary.
Much of his career revolved around marriage and annulments, starting in 1968 as secretary of the tribunal.
Father Collins said he served in that role from 1968 to 1976, before becoming a judge. In 1981, he became the Adjutant Judicial Vicar, a position that involved directing the first instance tribunal and leading the other judges.
He earned a master’s degree in psychology from Loyola College in Maryland.
Father Collins said he will continue his other passions, which include painting and polishing his homilies. He’ll continue to say Mass at Holy Family in Randallstown, where he has resided since 1972.
“I’ll have more energy to do things at a little slower pace,” Father Collins said.