Laurence Higgins

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Monsignor Laurence Higgins (September 3, 1928 – August 24, 2016)[1] was the founder and Pastor Emeritus of the St. Lawrence Catholic parish of Tampa, Florida in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Petersburg.[2] Higgins served as pastor from 1958 to 2007. A celebrated member of the Tampa Bay community,[3] Higgins received the 1994 Outstanding Citizen of the Year award from the Tampa branch of the Civitan Club.[4] Upon his retirement, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio proclaimed the week of June 21 to June 30, 2007 as "Higgins Days".[2][5]


Higgins was born September 3, 1928 in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 21, 1953 at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin, Ireland. He was transferred to the Florida Diocese of St. Augustine where he worked in Miami, and then in Tampa where he founded St. Lawrence Catholic Church in 1958. As a priest he served as the Vicar General of the Diocese of St. Petersburg under the late Bishop Thomas Larkin. In 1983, Pope John Paul II gave him the title of Monsignor Prelate of Honor and subsequently in 1988 Protonotary Apostolic, the highest rank of Monsignor.

As pastor, Higgins oversaw the development of the St. Lawrence Parish and the St. Lawrence Catholic School. He led fund-raising efforts for local high school communities as well, including a donation from his friend George Steinbrenner for the building of a new football field at Tampa Catholic High School. The parish's convention center, Higgins Hall, was named in his honor.

Higgins was a chaplain for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and served on planning and executive boards for the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and the Bay Area Legal Services.[2][6] Higgins was often sought by the Bay area media outlets to comment on controversial and church-related issues.

On April 1, 2007 he announced his retirement as the pastor of the parish effective June 30, 2007, while remaining at the parish as pastor emeritus.[7]

Higgins died in Tampa, Florida on August 24, 2016.[8][9] The funeral was held at St. Laurence Catholic Church in Tampa on August 31, 2016 with his burial following at the Garden of Memories Cemetery.[10]


  1. ^ "Well-known Tampa priest Tampa Monsignor Laurence Higgins dies at 87". Bay News 9. August 24, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  2. ^ a b c Day, Sherri (June 22, 2007). "Monsignor Higgins steps down". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  3. ^ "The "A" List". Tampa Bay Publications. May–June 2006. p. 132. ISSN 1070-3845. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  4. ^ "Past Award Winners:". Archived from the original on April 24, 2011. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  5. ^ "Proclamation - "MONSIGNOR LAURENCE E. HIGGINS DAYS"" (PDF). June 21, 2007. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  6. ^ Fazan, Sarina (December 29, 2012). "Getting to know Monsignor Laurence Higgins of St. Lawrence Catholic paish with "10 questions"". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  7. ^ "TAMPA FLORIDA municipal government - Mayor Pam Iorio Biography". Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  8. ^ Danielson, Richard; Bearden, Michelle (August 24, 2016). "Monsignor Laurence Higgins, who built a parish and helped build Tampa, dies at 87". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  9. ^ Preston, Allan (August 25, 2016). "Popular Irish priest Laurence Higgins dies aged 87 in Florida". Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  10. ^ Danielson, Richard; Dawson, Anastasia (August 31, 2016). "Monsignor Laurence Higgins remembered at funeral as more than a priest". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-10-16.

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