with Father Higinio
It was the first of October, a gorgeous autumn day. The radiant afternoon
sun warmed the hearts and souls of the school children joyfully leaving St.
Michael’s after a busy school day.
Fr. Higinio greeted me and invited me into
the small meeting room of the parish office. We planned to cordially chat about
his life-adventures from Argentina to Cobourg. His friendly smile and welcoming
words initiated the informal interview.
Who is Fr. Higinio?
This first question came as a surprise to him, but his answer came as a surprise to me. He gave a
similar answer to that of Pope Francis in his famous interview recently
published in the Italian Jesuit journal. “All of us are sinners. I am a sinner,
like Peter answered to Jesus. But the Lord has looked upon me like He looks
upon all of us. Good question, not easy to answer,” Father explained.
continued, “I was born in 1978, in the city of San Rafael of Mendoza Province.
San Rafael is 1000 km from Buenos Aires, at the foot of the Andes Mountains. My
parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina, but now they passed away. I have
three brothers; two of my brothers live in San Rafael and my twin brother lives
and works in Boston.
Already as a young boy I was thinking of becoming
an IVE priest. At 17 I entered the seminary, which was in my home town, and was
ordained at the age of 24.”
do you see your work in a parish?
Fr. Higinio’s answer
was immediate. He answered with visible conviction and enthusiasm, “I want to
help people to find God, to get close to God, to know His love, peace, mercy,
forgiveness, to help all the people. St. Ignatius wrote that Jesus sends
apostles to help all, to help everybody.”
you have a model priest?
“I like to read the life of the saints. I like
the writings of John Paul II and John XXIII. I like to learn from them about
how they lived their priesthood. I don't have one model, but learning from many
is what I like. I want to know how they helped people to find God, because
that’s what I want to do also.”
does it mean to you, “to think with the Parish”?
“As a Priest,” said Fr. Higinio,
“one has to do what helps people – visit the sick and teach who Jesus is to
children and the young. However, the parish is for all, and as a priest I have
to help each and every person to become a friend of God and to grow in that
friendship. Essentially, I want to help with the pastoral needs of the faithful.
you an optimistic or a hopeful person?
Fr. Higinio’s answer
was spontaneous: Hopeful! I was really inspired by John Paul II and Cardinal
Van Thuan who wrote many books about it: The Road of
Hope; Testimony of Hope; Prayers of Hope, Words of Courage. It’s a beautiful
teaching about hope.
kind of music do you like?
Fr. Higinio’s answer
came rapidly: I don't sing like Fr. Andrew! Then he stopped and I could see
that he was in a short, but intense reflection, and he nearly whispered with
smiling eyes: Music? I don't listen to lot of music. Well, I like Christmas
music, Italian Christmas music. (At this point, I felt that he wanted to go to
next question and leave the music and the singing topic behind.)
you read other than religious books?
I like to read the classics of each country
where I am. I give you a few examples. In Argentina, I read Martin Fierro, in Spain I read Quixote de la Mancha, in France I read The Song of Roland, in Italy I read The Divine Comedy, in Greece, I read Iliad and Odyssey.
many languages do you speak?
Spanish and Italian and I can converse in Greek, but if you don't practise you forget. And I am starting to speak English!
you like movies?
I am far from being a moviegoer, but for
example I liked The Life of Saint Maria Goretti and the Life
you work in other parishes before?
When I was studying in Rome I resided in my IVE
Order community, but I helped out regularly in a parish. Also, I did the same
when I was studying in Greece.
do you divide your day?
In the morning I pray with my breviary. I find
time to walk and pray the Rosary. It is the tradition of my Order to pray one
hour each day in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Also, I read
every day something spiritual or about the life of a saint. I especially like
to read about Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint John of the Cross, Father Pio, Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great and I read a
lot from Blessed John Paul II, especially his homilies.
did you end up here in Cobourg?
When I was working in Greece my Order asked me how
do I feel about a “change of scenery”. They suggested an associate pastor job
at St. Michael’s and later to help with the new College in Peterborough. I said
yes! Even though my only experience with Canada was two hours that I spent at
the Pearson Airport a few years ago. I did not know anything about Cobourg,
about St. Michael’s Parish or about the Canadian winter.
* * *
Thank you Fr. Higinio
and thank you for coming to our parish. And do not worry, the Canadian winter
will come soon enough. However, the warm welcome of the faithful of St. Michael
the Archangel Parish will remain with you during those “six winter months”. We
As I walked through the parking lot the warmth
of the October sun was just as comforting as the good impressions that I took
with me as I shook hands with our new Associate Pastor, Fr. Higinio
Laszlo De Roth, parishioner
St. Michael the Archangel
Parish Community of Cobourg