for His Lordship,
Bishop Augustine Eugene Hornyak, OSBM
November 25, 2003,
Feast of St. Josaphat Bishop-Martyr
On November 8, the Feast of St. Demetrius, His Lordship, Bishop Augustine Eugene Hornyak, OSBM, first Exarch of Great Britain, suffered a massive stroke that left him comatose. A week later he fell asleep in the Lord, at the age of 84. He had been a priest for 58 years, a Basilian for 47 years and a Bishop for 42 years. He was one of the last living members of the Ukrainian and the English hierarchies to have participated in the Second Vatican Council. Today, on the feast of St Josaphat Basilian Bishop-Martyr, we begin his funeral services.
Bishop Augustine was born Eugene Hornyak, on October 7, 1919. in Kucura,
Voyevodina, part of the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia. he was the third
of five children. He completed his primary education in Kucura, where people
still remember him walking his little sister (Sr. Vasylia, SSMI) to school.
His secondary school was completed in the nearby village of Verbssi. Eugene
was a talented honor student. Yet, from his earliest years, he felt a calling
to the priesthood. His parents sent him to study in Croatia. At the beginning
of his studies, Bishop Dionysius Narjadi tonsured him as a cleric, investing
him with the cassock. In 1940, Bishop sent him to Rome.
Hornyak's resided at the Pontifical Ruthenian College of St. Josaphat's, in Rome. On March 25, 1945, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ivan Buchko. Unable to return to Yugoslavia, Hornyak continued his education at the nearby Propaganda Fide University, where he obtained postgraduate degrees in both Sacred Theology and in Canon Law. Due to the viscitudes of the Second World War, he was obliged to immigrate to the United States. On the advise of Bishop Narjadi, and at the invitation of the Daniel Ivancho, he joined the Ruthenian Eparchy of Pittsburgh, serving as a professor of Canon Law and Dogmatic Theology. In addition he was Spiritual Director and Choir Master, a position that he had held in the Seminary in Rome.
An accomplished musician Hornyak possessed a melodious lyric tenor voice,
which he retained to the end of his life. Throughout his formative years,
Eugene Hornyak came to love and appreciate ever more our Liturgical Services.
He understood the beauty of the Liturgical Church Slavonic Language, it's
hidden meanings and subtle nuances. After all, he came from the Balkans —
the land where the liturgical books had originally been translated into Church
Slavonic. For Hornyak, it was his choice language of prayer. He grew both
in prayer as well as in his knowledge of Church Slavonic, and felt an increasing
desire to an ever more active part in the official liturgical life of the
Thus, in 1956, Hornyak entered the Order of St. Basil the Great, taking the monastic name of Augustine, after the great Church Father, whom he so admired and wanted to emulate. Father Augustine completed his novitiate year in Mundare, Alberta, following which continued to teach and direct Basilian Seminarians. In 1957 he was called back to the United States where he began to serve both their pastoral needs of the faithful and the Basilian Sisters. On June 19, 1960, together with Father Athanasius Pekar, Father Augustine made his Solemn Profession of monastic vows. He was soon appointed Spiritual Director of the Ukrainian Seminarians in Stamford, Connecticut, giving weekly conferences and hearing the seminarians' confessions. Recognizing his talents in working with young seminarians, his Basilian Superiors appointed him Assistant Master of Novices (Socius) in Glen Cove, Long Island.
It was at this point that I personally came into contact with Father Augustine. This is what I would like to share with you this evening: Father Augustine was not a distant teacher. He lived with us, worked with us, joined us in recreation and above all prayed with us. A son of the soil, he gardened with us. He taught us to plant and harvest. Yet he would give all these tasks a monastic dimension. He taught us to recognize the wonders of God and His mighty works in the creation about us. He even taught us St. Basil's "Hexamenron"(Six days of Creation), a classical work quite difficult for students in their late teens. He taught us catechism. He taught us Church Slavonic. Then he taught us to pray. Though he taught us how to observe the liturgical in detail, it was more important to him was that we become men of prayer.
A gentle and serene man, he insisted on personal discipline. He occasionally raised his voice but preferred to encourage us. Although he ran a "tight ship", all of us loved him. He took a personal interest in each and every one of his novices. He would frequently call us, individually, to council us. Some of our most precious moments were those spent in what we called "matters of conscience" (spiritual direction). "You will know the tree by the fruit it bears" (Mt 7:16). Of his twelve novices, all except one have remained in the service of the Church.
Father Augustine loved prayer and he loved community life. While he didn't actually play football with us, he was always on the sidelines observing and cheering both sides on. Yet there was a nobility and dignity about him that along with his gentleness and serenity were parts of his God given personality. Throughout his life, whether he was praised with "hosannas" or shouted at with "get out" or "het'", he never lost that dignity nor serenity.
There was a quotation from St. Paul that he constantly used. "For those, who love God, who are called according to His plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good." (1Cor 8: 28). This was a personal code of life for him and it helped him through many difficulties. It was in this passage of Sacred Scripture that he found his own secret of obedience, of which he was a model. Through it he understood human frailties, forgave, counseled and helped, but never dismissed or justified.
Bishop Augustine lived according to those words of St. Paul. He often repeated them to us novices during his conferences. He was not an orator but rather a teacher. He imparted truth, wisdom and faith to all those that sought them. None of his novices, will ever forget the memorable day — August 28th, 1960, the feast of St. Augustine. Following the evening meal, during our common recreation, Father Soter Holyk, Provincial of the Basilian Fathers in the United States, announced Father Augustine's appointment as Apostolic Visitator to Ukrainian Catholics in England. Hornyak never sought a bishop's mitre. He even explained to the Apostolic Nuncio that, as a Basilian monk, he had taken a vow not to seek ecclesiastical honors, directly or indirectly. As for us novices, we cried. Father Augustine was taken from us for the service of the Universal Church, on Oct 26, 1961. He was ordained together with Bishop Yaroslav Gabro, at the Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Philadelphia, by Metropolitan Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn , OSBM (Philadelphia), Bishop Isidore Boretsky (Toronto) and Bishop Joseph Shmondiuk (Stamford Eparchy). Hornyak accepted this new appointment as an act of obedience more than as an honor.
I never knew Bishop Hornyak as Ordinary of Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain. But I've met most of his clergy. He had been referred to as the "Prince Bishop" because of the dignity with which he presented himself. This was not something artificial but rather a feeling of dignity. He felt obligated to wear the episcopal insignia, whether in private or in public. It had nothing to do with his own person but rather with the office he held. It is worth noting that most of the material acquisitions and juridical infrastructure of the Exarchate were accomplished during his tenure of office. This very Cathedral, with its adjoining structures, were obtained primarily through his efforts.
The same can be said for most of the churches in the Exarchate. Thirty-five years later (1997), I met him in retirement. I found him much the same man that he was when he he left us— a monk. Divine Liturgy and The Divine Office were a part of his daily life. My last encounter with him was 2 months ago. He celebrated the priests prayers before the iconostas and the proskomedia. It was a special prayer and a preparation for the journey that lies directly ahead for him into eternity. How fitting it is that three bishops from the religious orders are the main celebrants on Bishop Hornyak's final earthly journey into everlasting life: Bishop Paul Chomnycky, OSBM, a fellow Basilian and his successor, Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn, Redemptorist, representative of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, and Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, Studite. With Bishop Hornyak an era has passed but a legacy lives on; a bishop has died but his church grows; a mentor and father figure has been lost to us forever but his spiritual inheritance has been enhanced and new directions are formed; a part of each and every one of us who has grown to know and love him is forever gone and yet a part of us is passed on to a new generation. Bishop Augustine, we thank you for all that you have bequeathed to us, both materially and especially spiritually. But we particularly thank you for your greatest gift — the gift of yourself. May that gift be a part of our lives that we may some day pass on to others making your memory truly eternal!
Father Leo Goldade, OSBM
(Bishop Hornyak's novice)
Postscript: Bishop Hornyak was buried in his native Kucura,
Serbia, on the feastday o St. Basil the Great (Julian Calendar), January 14,
2004. In attendance were Bishop Yurij Dzudzar, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, Father
Leo Goldade, Father Benjamin Lysykanych and many of the local people.