Collins, Bishop Richard
Richard Collins dedicated his life to the Catholic Church in Northumberland. He was first ordained as a priest in 1885 at the age of 28 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Collins served as Auxiliary Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle from 1905 when he was appointed Titular Bishop of Selinus to assist Bishop Thomas William Wilkinson (1825-1909). Wilkinson had himself been auxiliary Bishop for a year before his appointment, and so the process could be viewed as signifying succession. In 1909 Richard did indeed succeed Thomas as Bishop. In 1924, after 38 years as a priest and almost nearly 20 as Bishop Richard passed away in office and was buried at Ushaw College.
Bishop Collins is best remembered for his purchase of the Anglican church of St. Mary’s in Gosforth and its conversion to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in 1912. The church was built in 1860 with a £12,000 donation by Thomas Eustace Smith (1831-1903). Its construction was part of a national movement of mid-nineteenth century church buildings, spurred on by an (inaccurate but influential) census of church attendance. The church was a passion project and beautifully constructed, but alas failed to sustain a large enough congregation and closed in 1900.
Collins bought the church, which by the early 1900s had become dilapidated, for £3,000. He paid for the church himself and gifted it to the church, conducting the first mass in January of 1912. He left a further £2,000 in his will toward maintaining the church and directed a further £1,000 to the church from the Ellen Harding bequest. St. Mary’s had become a passion project for Collins but unlike Smith, Collins looked to ways of sustaining the church financially after his death.
Cheney, D.M. (2018). Catholic Hierarchy Records: Bishop Richard Collins. Available here (Accessed: 12/07/2018).
History of Sacred Heart R.C. Church. Available here (Accessed: 12/07/2018).
Open University: Religious Censues. Available here (Accessed: 12/07/2018).
Richard Collins. Available here (Accessed: 12/07/2018).