Reverend Monsignor Joseph P. Higgins
MADISON/MIDDLETON- Reverend Monsignor Joseph P. “Patrick” Higgins, age 79, entered eternal life on Sunday, June 3, 2012 peacefully at his home He was born on June 24, 1932 in Beloit, the son of Martin A. and Dora (Conlon) Higgins.
Monsignor Higgins received his primary education at Brother Dutton Catholic Grade School in Beloit, he entered St. Francis Minor Seminary, Milwaukee for high school. He continued his studies at St. Francis Major Seminary, Milwaukee with his collegiate studies in philosophy. He received his S.T.B. and S.T.L. degrees from the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Father Higgins was ordained by Bishop Martin J. O’Connor on December 15, 1957 at the Pontifical North American College in Rome for priestly service in the Diocese of Madison. His Investiture as Prelate of Honor was conferred in 1997. He celebrated his first Mass in the basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome on Dec.16. His first Mass in the United States was celebrated on July 13, 1958 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Beloit.
Monsignor Higgins first served the Diocese of Madison as Associate Pastor at St. Patrick Parish, Madison for three years. He then was appointed to the Chancery beginning as Assistant to the Chancellor, then Vice-Chancellor, Secretary to the Bishop, and finally, Chancellor for 33 years. During his tenure as Chancellor, he continued his active priestly ministry as Pastor at St. Mary Parish, Pine Bluff for 8 years, and then St. Bernard Parish, Middleton, for 21 years until he retired in 2002.
During his many years of priestly ministry, Monsignor Higgins faithfully served the Diocese of Madison as Vocations Director, part-time instructor at Queen of the Apostles Seminary (where he also coached basketball), Chaplain for the Serra Club, Dean for the West Dane Deanery, Diocesan Consultor, and Co-Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He was also an active Board Member of the Holy Name Catholic Center; Catholic Charities; Diocesan Cemeteries; St. Raphael Society; Presbyteral Council; and the Diocesan Corporate Board. Throughout his retirement years Monsignor Higgins continued to serve in various parishes helping out with Sunday Masses. In his most recent years he helped out at St. Bernards’ most Sundays. From a very young age, Father Pat developed a love and talent for golf. He spent many happy hours throughout his life on the links with friends.
He is survived by a sister, Mary (Gary) Petersen, State College, PA; sister-in-law, Catherine Higgins of Kenosha; nieces, Christine (Frank)Mellace, State College, PA., and Colleen Stancato, Kenosha; nephews, John Higgins, Michael (Carol) Higgins and Thomas (Lori) Higgins all of Kenosha and Geoffrey (Fibbi) Petersen, Allentown, PA and Greg Petersen of Santa Rose, CA; great nieces, Elizabeth Stancato and Erin Higgins and great nephews, Donald (Megan) Stancato, Daniel Stancato, Joseph Higgins, Paul Higgins, Colin Mellace, Nathan Mellace and Evan Mellace. Monsignor Higgins was preceded in death by his parents and a brother John Higgins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at ST. BERNARD’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, 2015 Parmenter Street, Middleton at 11:00 AM on Friday, June 8, 2012, with the Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison presiding. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery, Madison. Visitation will be at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church from 4:00 PM until 7:30 PM on Thursday, June 7, 2012 , where a Scripture Service will begin at 7:30PM. Friends may also call on Friday from 9:00 AM until the time of Holy Mass at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Joseph P. Higgins Memorial Fund, c/o Gunderson West Funeral Home, 7435 University Ave., Middleton, WI 53562.
A sincere thank you from St. Bernard’s Parish, as “Father Pat” had continued to assist and care for parishioners until his final days.
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