The death has occurred of Michael Higgins of San Diego, Palm Springs and formerly of Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland. Michael was born in Athenry on 9th August 1937. He was one of 6 boys in a family of 9 and was educated in Ireland before moving to the dioscese of San Diego, California where he worked tirelessly until his recent passing on October 15th 2016.
Michael was a canon lawyer and founded the organization Justice for Priests and Deacons where he served as its head and executive director since 2001.
He died following a short illness surrounded by family and loyal friends. Rosary was held Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 at Wiefels Mortuary Chapel, Palm Springs and Funeral Mass was Monday, Oct. 17 at St. Theresa Catholic Church, Palm Springs. Michael's remains will be repatriated to Ireland for a traditional wake and removal in his beloved Athenry. Following requiem mass, he will be interred in Athenry cemetery alongside his two brothers. May he rest in peace.
In lieu of flowers the donations can be made to Justice for Priests and Deacons at www.justiceforpriests.org.
Published in The Desert Sun on Oct. 19, 2016
Monsignor Michael Higgins
Justice for Priests and Deacons Founder
In 1997, after years of canonical ministry and recognizing a greater need for authentic, independent canonical advocacy, Msgr. Michael Higgins founded justice for Priests and Deacons. Justice for Priests and Deacons has steadfastly worked for the past twenty (20) years to assist anyone whose canonical rights were being denied by Church authorities. Learning from his personal experiences, Monsignor properly stood tall and reached out a helping hand to others so that they might not suffer the indignities that could disrupt their relationship with the Church. From its inception, Michael built this organization, grew it and touched the lives of countless individuals by giving them hope, solace, and defense of their rights. As of this date, over 1,000 priests, deacons, women and men religious and lay people from the United States and other countries have been assisted as they seek to have their rights respected and restored. On October 21, 2016, this faithful servant of God, after a brief illness, was called to his heavenly reward surrounded by friends and family, Born in 1937 in the town of Athenry, County Galway, Ireland, he was educated in Ireland and in California. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of San Diego, CA in 1964. He later studied canon law at Catholic University of America where he received his JCL degree, and at the Gregorian University in Rome where he received his JCD degree. He remained an active member of the Canon Law Society of America until his death. His remains have been transported back to Ireland so they could be interred in the cemetery of his beloved birth place of Athenry.
Before his death, Msgr. Higgins arranged for the continuation of this vital canonical ministry by receiving the consent of the Board of Directors with the appointment of a successor Executive Director for Justice for Priests and Deacons, Robert Flummerfelt, JCL, Esq. of Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Flummerfelt has worked closely with Msgr. Higgins and the Executive Board for many rears and intends to execute fully that same vision that Msgr. Higgins had for Justice for Priests and Deacons: successful and tireless advocacy for those in need of canonical representation. As we memorialize and remember the life of Msgr. Higgins. we give thanks to God for raising up a champion to defend the priesthood and to defend the rights of all whose basic rights of due process have been denied by ecclesiastical processes. Msgr. Higgins reminds us all that we have rights that are derived from divine law, natural law and canon law, none of which can be denied by the actions of men, no matter their ecclesial status. The lesson is a difficult one, especially for an institution that, while it has the duty of pointing out the deficits of applied justice in other worldly organizations, must look internally to see how it practices justice for its own citizens. Msgr. Higgins' vision and dedication will continue as Justice for Priests and Deacons continues its mission for the next twenty (20) years of need for those who serve the Church.
May God grant Eternal Peace to Msgr. Michael Higgins.
January 11, 2017
Msgr. Michael was a neighbor and regret not to have been informed of his passing and funeral services at St Theresa's Church in Palm Springs. He was a brilliant canon lawyer with a passion for justice. I am pleased I was able to occasionally help him in his declining years. We were neighbors. RIP!
(Rev.) Juan Romero, Palm Springs
December 30, 2016
Just learned of Father Mike's passing- Dec. 30th! He was a friend of our family for over 40 years. We were to meet him in Ireland this past September and have dinner in Galway with his cousins. Now we know why he never made it. He baptized many of our grandkids and great nieces. We used to kid about the Notre Dame vs. USC football games. He was a man with a big heart, tremendous compassion and a brilliant mind. We shall miss him dearly.
Richard Goodrich, MOORPARK, CA
October 26, 2016
Father Mike has been our friend for over 40 years. He ministered to my husband as my husband converted to Catholicism. He will be missed by many and we offer our condolences to his dear Irish family.
Barbara and Wayne Coleman. Solana Beach, CA
October 24, 2016
Mike will be missed by many people who came to know and respect him. He was a great friend of many of us. God give you eternal happiness Mike. Tom Harney, Montana and Galway
October 21, 2016
Msgr Higgins was a very close and dear friend, he is missed already. Our weekly talks about his computer problems, politics, and when we were going to invite him for dinner again were greatly enjoyed. His assistance in getting an annulment was greatly appreciated. His humor will be with me always.
Thomas Laybourne, San Diego, CA
October 17, 2016
My sympathy to the Higgins Family on the death of Mike. He will be missed. He will be missed by the Mercy Sisters of Tuam ... he was good for keeping in touch. We will pray for consolation for all of you and for eternal rest for Mike.
Mary Potter, RSM, Santee, CA