On November 16, 2012 we were honored to receive a visit from Fr. Donald Higgins, a Stigmatine priest whose religious community had previously owned the building on Quincy Street in Washington, DC which currently serves as our Juniorate House.
Fr. Higgins was among the group of seminarians who moved into 1326 Quincy Street NE in 1956. While studying for the priesthood, Fr. Higgins lived in the house for nearly six years with his confreres and formators. He recalls watching the dome of the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception being completed from his upstairs window.
Fr. Higgins was also among the nearly 100 seminarians who formed the choir for the opening ceremony of the Upper Church in 1959. With great emotion, he told us about the experience of studying at the Catholic University of America during the last phase of the construction of this great American monument to give glory to God by honoring His Mother Mary.Fr. Higgins is also a known preacher throughout the US who has been traveling and giving retreats since 1969. He shared with us stories of his friendship with Msgr. John Sweeney, the founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara, California which is currently cared for by the priests and sisters of our Religious Family.
We also discovered another common connection with Fr. Higgins though Fr. Cornelio Fabro, the 20th-century Thomistic philosopher, who belonged to the Stigmatine Order as well. Since 2005 our Religious Family has been working on the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project to republish his complete works, digitalize existing reel-to-reel homilies and lectures, and begin translations of his writings. Fr. Higgins had dinner with Fr. Fabro in Italy, hardly realizing how famous he was since the philosopher always maintained a truly humble demeanor.
In this fiftieth anniversary year of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it was a great privilege for us who are young in the religious life to share time with one who has persevered over so many years and still seeks daily holiness with love and great confidence in the Our Lady’s help. When asked for advice to young sisters in formation, Fr. Higgins simply said, “Be humble, be simple, and every day try to be more and more like Mary; she will lead you to her Son.”
May God bless Fr. Higgins and all those priests whose many years of service and witness to holiness shine in the Church! To Jesus through Mary!