George G. Higgins

For other people with the same name, see George Higgins (disambiguation).

Msgr. George Gilmary Higgins (January 21, 1916 May 1, 2002) was an American labor activist known as the "labor priest". He was a moving force in the Roman Catholic church's support for Cesar Chavez and his union movement.[1][2][3]


Higgins was a native of Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and the University of St. Mary of the Lake, where he studied under the visionary rector Msgr. Reynold Henry Hillenbrand.

Higgins taught at the Catholic University of America, served as chairman of the public review board of the United Auto Workers and chairman of the board of the United Farmworkers' Martin Luther King, Jr. Fund.

He was the author of the syndicated column "The Yardstick," and was the author of numerous other writings on worker justice in light of Catholic social teaching.

President Clinton presented Higgins with the Medal of Freedom in August 2000 in recognition of his role as a vocal supporter of the labor movement and an advocate for social justice. Higgins was the 2000 recipient of the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in terris is Latin for 'Peace on Earth'.

He died in La Grange, Illinois on May 1, 2002.

The George Gilmary Higgins papers are housed at the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.[4]


  1. Archived December 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Denver Catholic Register - World/Nation". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  3. "University Archives". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  4. Archived June 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
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