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Friday, December 2, 2016
Leader of Britain's Ukrainian Catholics dies
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┬áBishop Augustine Hornyak OSBM, the first Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, died on 16 November 2003, aged 84. Bishop Hornyak was born on 7 October 1919, ordained a priest in Rome in 1945, and became the first resident Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Great Britain in 1961. He led his exarchate (diocese), which covered the whole of Great Britain, for 26 years, during which time he cared for thousands of refugees displaced by World War II. He retired in September 1987, and his current successor is Bishop Paul Chomnycky OSBM. Bishop Hornyak's vigil is due to take place at 6.30pm today (Tuesday, November 25), with the funeral Mass tomorrow at 12 noon, in the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile on Duke Street, London W1. He will then be buried in his home town of Korcura, Serbia, in the crypt of the church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr Benjamin Lysykanych, Vicar General of the Ukrainian Exarchate of Great Britain, said: "It is with sadness that we have lost a man of great character, a true servant of the Church with tremendous loyalty to the Holy See. He has left us a legacy which we will try to fulfil. We commend his soul to the prayers of the faithful." Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "The Bishops' Conference is enriched by the presence of the Apostolic Exarch: it is a reminder of the universality of the Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Catholics have the condolences of the Conference at the death of Bishop Augustine Hornyak. All are joined in prayer for the repose of the soul of a dedicated and holy pastor." Ukrainian Catholics follow the Byzantine Rite rather than the Roman Latin Rite common in the West, but have full allegiance to Rome and are in full communion with the Pope. OBITUARY OF AUGUSTINE HORNYAK, MONK AND BISHOP Following the end of the Second World War, Ukrainian refugees were admitted into Britain in their thousands, bringing with them a culture, language and religion quite alien to their hosts and new neighbours. The majority of these immigrants were of the Ukrainian Catholic Church tradition (known in Eastern Europe as Greek Catholics) with its mixture of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, the historical result of a 16th century union between the Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchy and Rome. Rudimentary pastoral care for these immigrants was soon mobilised, but it was not until the arrival of Augustine Hornyak into this country in 1961 and the establishment soon after of a full British Ukrainian 'eastern rite' diocese (known in ecclesiastical language as an Apostolic Exarchate) that effective spiritual leadership and care could be given to this displaced population. Bishop Hornyak (whose title was 'Apostolic Exarch') enjoyed the symbolism of the name of his new Cathedral Church in Duke Street, London, acquired in 1967 - 'Holy Family in Exile' - for it would strike a cord with his home-sick flock and allow his people to draw strength from biblical precedents for their present plight. This church, designed by Alfred Waterhouse for the Congregationalists, had last been used by the US Marines stationed at the near-by American Embassy in Grosvenor Square (another displaced population!). His appreciation of dramatic irony, and his keen sense of history, also led him to give the name of St Theodore of Canterbury to his first London church in Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell (now demolished). Theodore of Canterbury was a Greek Christian from Tarsus in Asia Minor who headed and reformed the Church in England from 668. Augustine Hornyak was similarly the first 'Greek Catholic' ever to head a church in England. Augustine Hornyak was born on October 7, 1919 into a devout farming family of Ukrainian descent in Kucura, northern Serbia. Feeling called to the priesthood, he began his ecclesiastical studies in the Greek Catholic Seminary of Zagreb in 1939, but following the outbreak of war he continued his studies at the Urbanianum University in Rome where he distinguished himself by gaining a doctorate in theology on the subject of the social doctrine contained in the 4th century writings of St John Chrysostom. As was usual in those days, he both wrote and defended his doctoral thesis in the Latin language. Throughout the rest of his life he excelled as a Latinist and would often entertain dinner guests with jokes spoken in Latin ˝ always generously giving the benefit of the doubt to his less erudite interlocutors that their laughter was the result of comprehension and not self-conscious embarrassment. Ordained a priest in Rome in 1945, his first work of pastoral care was towards Ukrainian war refugees in various parts of Italy, simultaneously completing his higher studies, including a year of canon law at the Gregorian University. Soon after ending his studies he migrated to the United States where, after a short stint working for the Ruthenian Catholic Church (a jurisdiction closely related to the Ukrainian Church), and acting as a seminary professor in Pittsburgh, he devoted himself to the Ukrainian population as a pastor. Not content with the way his religious vocation was developing, Augustine Hornyak wanted a more structured religious life and therefore joined an eastern rite religious order, the Order of St Basil the Great, in which he was professed in 1960. His qualities of leadership were soon noted by his religious superiors, and he was appointed Novice Master at Glencove Monastery, New York. This appointment did not last long, as the following year he was nominated bishop and spiritual head of the Ukrainian Catholic population in Great Britain (with the title of Titular Bishop of Ermontis), being consecrated in Philadelphia on October 26, 1961, a few days after his 42nd birthday. He was one of the youngest bishops in attendance at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), an experience which left him with huge admiration for the internationalism of the Roman Catholic Church, but also a fearless conviction of the need for his own church to maintain strong and strict bonds with the Pope and the Vatican at whatever short-term cost. This conviction, in later years, was to bring him into direct conflict with those of his own church whom he believed had secessionist tendencies. In England Bishop Hornyak was technically a suffragan bishop of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, at that time Cardinal William Godfrey. The latter's successor, Cardinal John Heenan, helped secure for the Ukrainians the splendid Cathedral Church at Duke Street. Bishop Hornyak developed close personal relationships with Heenan, as well as his successor, Cardinal Basil Hume. Neither cardinal, however, could quite come to terms with their (technical) responsibility of being the overseeing bishop (Metropolitan) for the welfare of a church which was at the same time 'Catholic' (because recognising the supremacy of Rome) and yet so different in so many ways (an example being the church's tradition of married clergy). When attending meetings of the Bishops' conference of England and Wales, the Roman Catholic hierarchy loved the exotica and colour Hornyak would bring to their concelebrations ˝ the resplendent Byzantine robes and sparkling crown (in place of the more usual mitre) reminiscent of the Imperial Court liturgies of Hagia Sophia in 12th century Byzantium. ever since the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy in 1850 had there been such a mix. As an educator, Hornyak could appreciate his unique position and opportunity to instruct his episcopal confreres on the real meaning of multi-ritualism and diversity within the one Catholic Church. Nonetheless, no one could really understand the particular problems that began to develop within Hornyak's church from the late 1970s that ultimately led to his early retirement in September 1987. As a bishop, Hornyak was immensely conscientious and completely devoted to the mission he believed God had entrusted to him. Yet he was unprepared for the strength of the emotional forces unleashed following the release, in 1965, by the then Soviet government of the Ukrainian national hero Archbishop Joseph Slipij, the head of the Ukrainian Church prior to its liquidation in 1946 by the Soviet authorities. By the late 1970s this emotion was channelled into a movement of virtual national liberation through a movement for church autonomy. Matters of allegiance and jurisdiction became greatly confused. As a Catholic bishop (albeit an 'eastern' catholic bishop) Hornyak held to the proposition that matters of change of church policy or other issues of import have first to be given the approval of Rome, this being a constitutional pre-requisite of the nature of the Ukrainian 'Catholic' Church. Hornyak's catholicity, however, was misinterpreted by some as lacking 'national spirit'. The fact that he hailed from Yugoslavia and did not share the home experiences of the West Ukrainian expatriates who formed the bulk of the church in England also suddenly became an issue. Others criticised him for a lack of political astuteness in dealing with the political forces at work. The complexity of Ukrainian church politics at this time, and well into the 1980s, was truly 'Byzantine' ˝ with its appropriate mixture of intrigue. The manifestations of the problems in England were such as even to hit world headlines. Throughout this period, nonetheless, Bishop Hornyak kept up his spirits, knowing that factors were at play over which he could have no control, and did all he could to keep up the morale of his clergy and those who were close to him until such time that higher authorities dealt effectively with the underlying causes of the problems. The problems, sadly, persisted, leading to his premature resignation in 1987. He retired to a home in Acton, London, where he lived until his death. Those who lived with him at Bishop's House, Binney Street, remember Augustine Hornyak as an inspirational, kind and utterly charming individual. A man of marked personal holiness, he was also a great raconteur, a man of wide culture who had a great love of music. Indeed, he was gifted with a superb tenor voice that he loved to exercise at appropriate times in liturgical celebrations at his Cathedral. The circumstances of his life as a bishop, particularly in the last years, allow a comparison to be made with that great churchman of ninth century Byzantium, Theodore the Studite. Hornyak, like Theodore, was an extremely principled man and like him was embroiled in the ecclesiastical politics of his time such as to cause great personal suffering. One of Theodore's Western biographers gave him a particular epithet. The same epithet could be used as a fitting tribute to Augustine Hornyak. Much loved and admired by those who knew him closely, misjudged and misunderstood by others who didn't, Augustine Hornyak would surely be pleased to be remembered by these Latin words: vir valde mirabilis. He is survived by his sister, Vasilia, who is also a nun and who cared for him up to his last days. Source: CCS
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