Father William (“Boof”)
Collins was the superior of the first group of four Maryknoll priests who came
to Tanzania in 1946. While he was reluctant to assume this leadership role he
said: "Maryknoll has done everything it could for me, so whatever I can do to
repay in some small way my debt to Maryknoll is hereby offered." Willie had a
very cheerful personality and an ever-ready sense of humor. He was described as
"full of the devil at recreation and full of the angels at the times of
spiritual exercises." After being elected to the Maryknoll General Council in
1956 he said, "I have been elected to the council for comic relief."
One Sunday he was
giving a homily in the large pulpit in Nyegina Parish in Musoma Diocese.
Although Willie was preaching very energetically, there was no response from the
people and they even seemed half asleep. So he turned to the wall and continued
his homily. He said out loud to the congregation: "I might as well be preaching
to the wall for all the interest I am getting.’ At other times he would crouch
down behind the large pulpit and continue speaking in order to get the attention
of the passive congregation.