Fr. Ray Collier SSC

Ray (Raymond) Collier comes from a farming family in Co. Louth, Ireland. He joined the
Columbans in 1960 and was ordained Christmas 1966.

In 1967 Ray was appointed to Mindanao in the Philippines where he ministered in various
parishes, but owing to ill health returned to Ireland in 1971 where he was engaged in mission awareness. He was back in Mindanao in 1974 until ill health again necessitated his return to Ireland in 1978. After spinal surgery he was appointed to Solihull, Britain, as house bursar in 1983. The following year he became priest-in-charge of the Columban House in Redington Road, London.

In the 1980’s there was a growing awareness among the Columbans that Britain was becoming an increasingly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society. With this awareness, the Columbans decided there was a need for them to share something of their own overseas cultural experience with the local church in Britain. It was felt that to do so it was necessary to either take a parish, open a centre, or create an “engaging presence”,
so as to immerse themselves in a local situation.

In 1991 three Columbans (Ray Collier, Michael Kelly & Tim O’Keeffe) were appointed to
the East End of London to create an “engaging presence” in the reality of East London. There was no blue-print provided other than to go with one‘s own Irish and other cultural experiences of God, and not to impose those experiences but be open to a new experience of God in the human realities of the East End of London. “Engaging Presence” meant living outside Church structures and being open to and generous in our response to the invitations that the Holy Spirit presented to us. This “Engaging Presence” enabled us to accompany various projects and groups across the cultural, language and faith boundaries. It highlighted that God is present and often hidden within the human realities of life, waiting to be discovered by human interaction across cultural, faith and ethnic boundaries. In doing this work we became evangelised by the Spirit of God alive in the people of the East End of London. Shortly after the Columbans began in East London, Columban Lay missionaries from overseas came and joined them.

In 2007, Ray was appointed to be part of a new missionary team experience of Columban priests and Columban Lay Missionaries working together in Birmingham. Its rationale was that God entered our world on our terms to experience our human reality in its diversity. This, for Columban Missionaries, means being sent to cross boundaries, seeking out signs and echoes of the kingdom alive in the human reality among the diverse people of Birmingham. Ray and the team meet people on their terms, and are challenged by what emerges and try to create a different experience of Church among people they meet. They encourage new relationships of unforeseen possibilities for new life. This remains Ray’s on-going mission today.