The Oceanside, CA institution has named Rev. Michael Joseph Higgins, TOR, as its eighth president


The Board of Trustees of the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, Calif., is pleased to appoint Rev. Michael Joseph Higgins, TOR, as the eighth president of the school. In affiliation with the University of San Diego, the Franciscan School of Theology at Old Mission San Luis Rey is the premier graduate educational institution training religious and laity in the spiritual, theological, and social tradition of Francis of Assisi.

Founded in 1854 in Santa Barbara, it is one of the oldest Catholic theological institutions in the Western United States.

After service with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Vietnam, Mr. Higgins entered the Sacred Heart Province of the Third Order Regular in 1978. He received a Master of Divinity degree from St. Michael’s College, a Master of Sacred Theology from Regis College, both member schools of the University of Toronto, and a Master of Arts in formative spirituality from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His ordination to the priesthood in 1985 was followed by service in collegiate education and religious formation for both friars and lay members of the Franciscan family.

Father Higgins received a Doctor of Sacred Theology with a specialization in Franciscan spiritualty from the Antonianum in Rome in 1999. This was later complemented in 2007 by a Ph.D. in Higher Educational Administration through Capella University. From 2001 to 2007 Father Higgins served in Rome as Vicar General of the Franciscan Third Order Regular Friars and as the Minister General of the Order from 2007 to 2013. In 2014 he served at the Franciscan School of Theology as Special Assistant to the President and Dean and assumed the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs this past year.

A distinguished Franciscan friar, scholar, educational administrator, and global churchman, Father Higgins will lead the school with confidence and vision at this important time in its history.

“His vision is that of Pope Francis.” remarks Father David Gaa, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Franciscan School of Theology, “He is committed to the Franciscan theological tradition and its relevance to the work of the men and women who wish to serve the people of God in the twenty-first century. Enhanced by the school’s affiliation with the University of San Diego, this vision establishes the Franciscan School of Theology as a dynamic and unique center of theological training in the United States.”

Father Higgins assumes the presidency this August and follows the five-year service of Franciscan friar Joseph Chinnici, OFM, who led the school’s move in 2013 from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, to Old Mission San Luis Rey.