Reverend Chester “Chet” Collins

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Reverend Chester “Chet” Collins, age 77, of Gaylord, Michigan, passed away unexpectedly at his home, on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.
Father Chet was born on September 15, 1945, in Flint, Michigan, the son of Louis and Gladys (Conroy) Collins.
He was a 1963 graduate of St. Mary High School in Gaylord. He then attended Flint Community College and later graduated from Central Michigan University. He taught in the Whittemore-Prescott School system for three years, before enlisting in the US Navy. After his discharge from the Navy, he attended a saddle-making school in Oregon. Sometime later he returned to Gaylord where he worked various jobs and retired from the Gaylord Post Office after 25 years of service. After retirement, he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest on January 12, 2013. He was currently the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Mancelona, and St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, Bellaire.
Previous priestly assignments include Father Chet’s ministry as parochial vicar of St. Matthew, Boyne City; St. Augustine, Boyne Falls; St. John Nepomucene, Praga; St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Shrine, St. Joseph, and Guardian Angels, Manistee; and administrator of St. Luke the Evangelist, Bellaire and St. Joseph, East Jordan.
Father Chet is survived by three siblings, Joyceann (Joseph) Burgdorf, Barbara Jean Collins, and Vern (Chris) Collins, all of Gaylord; five nieces and nephews, Robert (Vicki) Burgdorf, Jeff (Heather Schrems) Collins, Scott Collins, Matt (Michelle) Collins, and Michelle (Saun) Keister; several great-nieces and -nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Gladys.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. from St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord, with The Most Reverend Jeffrey J. Walsh, Bishop of Gaylord, presiding.
Visitation will be held at the Nelson Funeral Home on Monday, January 16, 2023, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secular Franciscans will offer a tribute, at the Nelson Funeral Home on Monday, January 16, 2023, at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Knights of Columbus Rosary at 6:00 p.m.
Visitation will continue Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at St. Mary Cathedral, from 10:00 a.m., until the time of Mass at 11:00 a.m.
Interment will be held on Saturday, January 21, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Linden, Michigan.

Contributions in memory of Father Chet may be made to St. Mary Cathedral Schools, through the Nelson Funeral Home, PO Box 1548, Gaylord MI 49734.

40 comments on “Reverend Chester “Chet” Collins”

  1. Collins family
    Father will be so missed. I’ve enjoyed being his helper at the Brook’s masses. He was loved by all of us that attended his monthly mass. So very sorry for your great loss.

  2. Vic & Connie Ouellette

    Prayers for the Collins family. RIP Father Chet. Always a pleasure to speak with Father Chet. Missed and loved by many.

  3. Michael & Connie Zaborowski

    Father Chet…..We are surely going to miss you here on earth. Our sincere sympathy go out to your siblings and extended family. We have lost a good friend and classmate and God has gained one more saint for His heavenly work. May God keep you all in his gentle embrace and help you through this difficult time.
    Love and prayers,
    Mike and Connie Zaborowski

  4. I am glad he said yes to his vocation to the priest hood . I told him it was written on his forehead for years .
    Rest in peace Fr Chet

  5. I am so sad to know that Father Chet is no longer with us. May he rest in peace in the arms of God. We at the Brook , looked forward to his monthly celebration of Mass for us and were very thankful.
    My condolences to the Collins Family and Saint Mary Cathedral congregation.

  6. Dan and Kim Smith

    To the family,
    Chet was always been a kind and gentle man. Running into Chet at a ball game, church, or years ago at the Post Office, was always a positive moment. He always greeted with a smile, and had kind words to share. Rest In Peace Fr. Chet,

  7. Dear Barbara, Vern, Chris, and Joyceann, what a shock to learn of Father Chet’s passing. May he rest in peace.
    I have many fond memories of him and your parents. He helped me to teach CCD at Holy Redeemer before he went to the seminary. With my love to you at this sad time.

  8. My heart is so heavy in this time for the whole family and all close one. Father Chet had a beautiful soul. He will be forever missed. I send deep condolences.

  9. My Sympathy to Father Chet’s entire family. His Mass was the first that my husband and I attended when we moved up north. He gave years of service to this community.

  10. To father Chet‘s family I extend my sympathy. My heart hurts at the loss of our shepherd at Saint Anthony’s and Mancelona. He was a wonderful counselor and teacher.

  11. Linda Farrand Armstrong

    Collins Family, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Our mothers worked together way back when, at that time it was Hidden Valley. RIP Father Chet.

  12. To the Family of Father Chet,
    We’re so very sorry to hear the sad news of Fathers passing. He had such a big heart and kind soul. He will be missed.
    Our Deepest Sympathy
    Terry & Kathy Avenall

  13. Jackie Duchene (Coan)

    Many condolences and blessings to the family of Fr. Chet. He has been a favorite of the whole Coan family since coming to St. Anthony’s in Mancelona. We are so very grateful for his visits to our uncle in assisted living and celebrating the Eucharist and sacrament of the sick, baptism of our children in the family, officiating at marriage in the family, helping us celebrate our parents’ 60 years of marriage, time spent just visiting and his smiles and jokes throughout the years. He will be so very missed. May he rest in peace.

  14. Doug & Connie Squires

    Love and prayers for the Collins family. Chet was a special person to visit with. He will be greatly missed.

  15. Sharon & Dennis Roberts

    What to say to a family that was so much apart of Gaylord, Father Chet worked with my husband Dennis at the Post Office for yrs. Always a great friend – we are out of state but know that we are remembering him in our prayers,RIP Father Chet & please continue to watch over us Dennis & Sharon Roberts

  16. Fr. Chet was a blessing to our St. Anthony parish family. There are so many wonderful things to say about him, but one in particular stands out. His sermons were so inspiring and interesting. He shared real-life experiences and stories that blended in with the sermon. Many times, he started out with something that sounded so intriguing and serious – then came the punch-line and he had us all laughing. I closed my eyes during most of his sermons, because he preached in such a way that we could put ourselves “there.” He had a kind and encouraging word for everyone. Gentle, soft spoken, compassionate, forgiving, understanding, patient – he was all of that and more. Our hearts are heavy with sadness that he left us, but without question, he has entered eternal rest and is with Jesus, and that in itself is comforting. We love you, Fr. Chet; you will be missed.

    The Moore’s

  17. Tim & Jodie Samkowiak

    Dear Collins Family,
    We are very sorry to hear of Father Chet’s Passing. We have recently enjoyed attending the masses at St Anthony’s in Mancelona and hearing Father Chet’s message. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  18. You have been such a blessing to so many Fr Chet. May you rest in His peace. So sorry for your loss Barb, Vern and the whole Collins family.

  19. Fr. Chet I will always remember our high school days together. I was so proud of you when you were ordained a priest. I always enjoyed your visits. Deepest condolences to your family. May you rest in peace.

  20. Fr. Chet I will always remember our high school years together. I was so proud of you when you were ordained a priest. I enjoyed your visits with you and Barb. My deepest condolences for your family. May you rest in peace.

    Philip Gapinski

  21. I’m so sad to hear of Fr Chet’s passing.
    May the Lord comfort your grieving heart. And give you Peace.
    Peace to you all, your in my prayers
    Beverly Bagwell
    St Anthony’s Parish

  22. Barb,
    Sending healing prayers and condolences to you with gentle hugs. I’m so sad to hear of Chet’s adventure to HIM.
    Keeping you in my warmest thoughts as you navigate this trying time.
    Wishing you hope and healing

    Leonora Walchak

  23. To the Collins family,
    Father Chet was a dedicated priest to our parish. He was frugal as he never wanted lights left on if they didn’t need to be, he was humble, always the last in line at funeral luncheons, making sure everyone had enough to eat before he took any, he was considerate, he sent out birthday and thank you cards that he signed himself, he’d always thank us for coming to Mass. He was an animal lover, his dogs were his immediate family. He was a good soul and will be missed by myself and our parish!
    My deepest sympathy to the Collins family.

  24. Bill & Mary Ann Skibinski

    To all the family of Fr. Chet. I met Fr. Chet a few years before he went to the Seminary and I always admired him for going and I knew he would be a great Priest. He was such a quiet and gracious person and always stopped to say hello. RIP, Fr. Chet , you are now with our God , you will surely be missed by all.

  25. Father Chet was exactly the kind of pastor we needed. He brought changes, but always in his soft, gentle manner. He truly listened to the concerns of the parishioners. He worked very hard at taking care of so many needs between the two parishes. He is now enjoying his heavenly reward for being the good steward.

  26. All of us of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Franciscan Fraternity will deeply miss our brother Father Chet. He exemplified the model of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi in so many ways. No worries as we all knew he was heaven bound.

  27. Vern, Barb, Joyce & the entire Collin family, I was saddened to hear of Fr. Chet’s passing. I have many warm memories of being neighbors so many years ago, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  28. Doug and Connie Squires

    Sending prayers and condolences to the entire Collins family. Fr. Chet was such a gentle soul, he will be missed. Rest in peace Fr. Chet.

  29. Terry n Terry Jacob

    Barb, Vern, Joyce and all the Collins Family… Fr. Chet will be missed by all the Ranger Lake Community. He was the most wonderful neighbor for so many years. You are all in our prayers.

  30. Barb, Vern, Joyceann, I have attended Mass many times at St. Luke in Bellaire. Long before that I knew Father Chet so well in Gaylord. Rest in peace Father Chet. My sincere condolences to all of his famiy.

  31. Fr. Chet came to Manistee as a new priest. He had a wonderful smile and sense of humor, along with being prayerful, joy filled, down to earth and practical. We were sorry to see him move on, but happy for his future parishioners. Fr Chet, rest in God’s arms.

  32. so sorry to hear of Fr. Chet’s passing. Remember him from my high school days at St Mary’s, then learned of his becoming a priest later in life. He visited my mother in the nursing home right before he became a priest . just a few days before she died. Recall his telling us that while he was studying in the seminary he was not able to attend his own mothers funeral. He followed his calling and that took courage and sacrifice. Prayers and deepest sympathy sent to his family.

  33. Collins family, I am very sorry for your loss. Chet was a wonderful person. He would bring treats to the post office every so often, so we called him “Chetty” Crocker instead of Betty. He will be greatly missed.

  34. Jennifer (Mankowski) Ballantine

    Collins family,
    I remember Fr. Chet’s smiling face from the post office, but most importantly from his time with us serving at St. Mary Cathedral.
    May his soul rest in peace.

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