Higgins, Jeremiah, 1892-1965, Jesuit priest

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Higgins, Jeremiah, 1892-1965, Jesuit priest

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  • Jerry Higgins

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Dates of existence

30 September 1892-23 January 1965

History

Born: 30 September 1892, Cork City
Entered: 07 September 1910, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1924, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1928, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 23 January 1965, Mater Hospital, Dublin

Part of the St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin community at the time of death

by 1916 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
1918-1921 Rathfarnham - Studied for BA at UCD
by 1927 at Valkenburg, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) making Tertianship

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 40th Year No 2 1965
Fr Jerry Higgins SJ (1892-1965)
Fr. John Casey was for many years Spiritual Father to the philosophers in Tullabeg. He was level-headed and solidly sound, and in clear-cut statements gave carefully measured advice. To a philosopher about to begin his colleges he remarked : “I see you are assigned to the Crescent. I see you are the only scholastic there. I see too that Fr. Higgins is going there from Galway. Make a friend of Fr. Higgins. He is a man who will say little at recreation. But visit him in his room. You will find him kind and helpful. He is a friend worth having”.
Fr, Bat Coughlan was a rock of wisdom and learning, a confessor sought after by laymen and priests. “If ever I meet a case”, he once said, “that requires patience and kindness and understanding I know no one better to whom to send it than to Fr. Higgins, I am reluctant, however, to impose on him because I know how much such cases cost him in physical energy”.
These are unsolicited testimonies from two very different men, These were men who had lived with Fr. Higgins and had come to know his worth. Those who had not lived with him or who never broke through his quiet reserve found it difficult to keep in conversation with him. When one knew Fr. Higgins, conversation either flowed naturally or the silences were restful. One did not feel the need to talk, a friend was near. Fr. Higgins will be remembered with affection by all those who lived with him especially in Gardiner Street and more especially during the seven years when he was Minister. It was as Minister that he was forced to show to all, gifts that were well known to his intimate friends. His room as Minister was a “half-way house” for every member of the community, and he was everyone's friend. He was never fussed, one got the impression that the complicated and ever changing weekly lists of preachers, supplies and Masses worked automatically, Fr. Higgins had a charm that attracted every one to him, he was cultured and refined. He knew and loved a good book, he delighted in good pictures and appreciated good music. He read German, French, Italian and Irish classics in their original language, and he wrote perfect Latin with ease and his sermons in English were considered to be gems of literature - many have expressed the hope that they have been preserved and may perhaps be published. Fr. Higgins spent most of his life in the classroom. With his rich background of wide reading and his naturally well ordered mind and a manner, though quiet, demanded respect, he was a teacher well above average. Teaching, however, must have been a trial to him, because he was not the type that would force an unwilling horse to drink ! He was at his best when his listeners were sympathetic. Intellectual converts appreciated him. On every page of the Baptismal Register in Gardiner Street his name appears and often more than once, during his years there. He has an uncanny gift of finding the exact book that answered all the needs of the varied converts whom he instructed during his years in Gardiner Street. One would think that it was just by chance that he picked the right book-but far from it. His knowledge of the good books was wide and his judgment on a piece of writing was accurate and fair. He loved a good joke, and could tell one. He could sum up a person or a situation in a few words that said everything.
Fr. Higgins detested the sham and the artificial in every department, education, spiritual life, national life. His keen and balanced judgment saw through every facade. It was no light cross for him to bear with those who were satisfied with the second-best. Fr. Jerry was a delightful companion on a journey and he 'made' a villa. To the last years of his life he had the gift of joining in the general fun of men twenty or thirty years his junior. A game of cards where Jerry took a hand was sure to be an enjoyable game, if for no other reason than that he gave himself wholeheartedly to it. Order and neatness and regularity and painstaking care to detail marked everything he did. One would venture to say that nowhere in the Province are there Ministers' books written up-to date with a minimum of words and a maximum of information as one will find in Gardiner Street covering the years that Fr. Jerry was Minister there. As a confessor he had a big following of hard cases. “Go to Fr. Jeremiah” was a cant-phrase in the underworld of human weakness. The cardinals in the church missed him much when unable to be their Spiritual Director. The nurses in the Mater wept when he died. He is missed in Gardiner Street community, too. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

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IE IJA J/1448

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IE IJA

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