Kevin O’Higgins SJ
Kevin O’Higgins was born in Dublin. He was inspired to join the Jesuits by the example of Daniel Berrigan, an American Jesuit noted for his social activism and his involvement in the anti-war movement. In 1984, shortly after his ordination, Kevin was assigned to work in Paraguay. This was to help fill the gap left by a group of Spanish Jesuits who had been expelled by the dictatorial government.
During his time in Paraguay, Kevin taught philosophy and lived with Jesuit students in the marginalised barrios of Asuncion. Witnessing people triumphing over all kinds of adversity was both humbling and inspiring. Kevin came to realize that the faith of the disadvantaged is truly miraculous, because it is tried and tested every single day.
Kevin returned to Ireland in at the start of the new millennium. Currently, he teaches occasional philosophy courses, but his main work is with JUST (Jesuit University Support and Training) in Ballymun. He believes that he is as much a missionary in Dublin as he ever was in Paraguay. His experience in South America made him much more aware of the social and cultural divisions in his native Dublin.
JUST was launched in 2005 to help bridge these divisions. It supports students from Ballymun who wish to access third level education. Kevin was shocked to learn that only 2-3% of people in Ballymun were gaining access to third level institutions. Annually, there are about 100 students enrolled with JUST, ranging from pre-college candidates to those engaged in PhD programmes. Kevin values his work with JUST in Ballymun as much as his experience in Paraguay and regards the opportunity to live and work in Ballymun as one of the great blessings of his Jesuit life.