Remembering Kathy Collins

Posted: January 23, 2024

By: Mission Integration

(Updated 01/25/24)

Kathy Collins came to SU in 1997 at the completion of the Chapel of St. Ignatius to be a Campus Minister for Marriage Preparation. In this role, she not only prepared hundreds of couples to be married in the chapel, but she also led students on service-immersion trips to Belize, Ecuador and Mexico, drove a van full of students to Monroe weekly to visit prisoners there, coordinated many retreats and facilitated volunteer opportunities with L’Arche. She retired from Seattle University to serve as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Bolivia and remained connected to the university as Director of St. Francis House, which welcomes SU student volunteers, and as Interim Director at the Ignatian Spirituality Center. She also served as a spiritual director for many in the SU community through the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat and at Ignatian Silent Retreats for students, faculty and staff.

Kathy had an incredible ability to make every person she encountered feel like the most important person in the room. Many people referred to her as "a living saint in our day" and felt inspired to be a better human because of their encounters with her. This was particularly extraordinary because Kathy lost her beloved daughter, Patty, to liver cancer when Patty was 11 years old in 2000. Kathy walked the journey of accompanying her daughter through cancer diagnosis, treatment and end of life with an extraordinary commitment to maintaining a sense of joy and purpose. When asked how she could manage the loss of a child and continue to live with hope, she responded that "to live with joy is a choice." She made that choice every day despite her deep grief. 

Kathy’s motto in life was “just show up and see who needs to be loved” and she extended kindness and care to every student, alum and colleague she encountered.  Kathy succumbed to her fourth bout with cancer on Jan. 19. She is survived by her husband, Bill, her two daughters, Katie and Sheila, and their families, and many adoring family and friends, among them her niece Jen Tilghman-Havens, AVP for Mission Integration.

Her services are this weekend at St Joseph Church. More details can be found here. The funeral mass will be livestreamed here. A mass will also be celebrated for Kathy on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 12:30 p.m. at the Chapel of St. Ignatius with a reception to follow.