Saying Goodbye to an Irish Smile: Monsignor Higgins Passes away at age 87

Junior Maddy Ruppel remembers,

photo credit: Sophia Bahr

Junior Maddy Ruppel remembers, “my fondest memory of him was seeing him talk to people from his parish, with a smile always on his face. I know the Tampa Bay community is going to miss him for all the love and support he contributed over the last 50 years.”

Sophia Bahr, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Tampa has lost one of it’s most noble men. Monsignor Laurence E. Higgins died last Wednesday, August 24 at his parish home nearby his founded St. Lawrence Catholic Church and School. He was 87.He served the Tampa community for over fifty years, starting by attaining a cow pasture in 1958 on Hillsborough Avenue, where he was told to,“build a parish” by the archbishop upon his arrival in the Bay Area.

There, he started his parish-St. Lawrence Catholic Church and School, which made a lasting impact on the lives of many Tampa natives through both a welcoming church and an opportunity for education. A funeral service will be held at 11:30 in the morning on Wednesday, August 31.

Our own Sister Mary Glavin gives her respects and says,

“He was always, friendly, cheerful, interested, gregarious and got to the core of what he wanted to talk about.”
Senior Megan Przedpelski and mom, Karen Przedpelski plan to attend the funeral. She says, “He was such a memorable man and so many will be at his funeral. So many faces old and new in memory of him. He has made such an impact.” Przedpelski later laughs, “He was almost a Tampa celebrity.”

Higgins’ passing has truly struck many of us, as many Academy girls were brought up and attended St. Lawrence for grade school.He was there to celebrate many coming of age sacramental rites sacred to the Catholic faith, as the acting priest for the ceremony.

“He was there to baptize my siblings and I, and even marry my mom and dad.He was the face of St. Lawrence, everyone looked up to him and had so much respect for him.”
photo credit: Lori Diez (used with permission)
Senior Lexie Diez says,“He was there to baptize my siblings and I, and even marry my mom and dad.He was the face of St. Lawrence, everyone looked up to him and had so much respect for him.”

Sophomore Isabella Bahr recalls a time when Monsignor was there for her family. She says, “when my grandfather was sick many years ago, my mom contacted him to perform Last Rites. Within an hour, Monsignor was present at the hospital bible in hand and ready to anoint my grandpa in his last days. His presence meant so much to our family.”

Isabella Bahr (far right) at her First Holy Communion at St. Lawrence with Monsignor Higgins (far left). Bahr spent ten years at STL.
photo credit: Isabella Bahr (used with permission)
Isabella Bahr (far right) at her First Holy Communion at St. Lawrence with Monsignor Higgins (far left). Bahr spent ten years at STL.

On the morning of his passing, St. Lawrence released a statement on their website, “As we gather for this celebration of his life, please pray for the repose of Monsignor’s soul and in thanksgiving to God for sending us this wonderful priest and friend.”

Junior Natalie Mauro, pictured here as a fourth grader at St. Lawrence, believes, "his Irish accent will always hold a place in my heart."
photo credit: Natalie Mauro (used with permission)
Junior Natalie Mauro, pictured here as a fourth grader at St. Lawrence, believes, “his Irish accent will always hold a place in my heart.”