At 11 p.m., on Thursday, 7th February, at St. Joseph’s Retreat, Highgate Hill, London, there passed to his eternal reward, at the age of 59 years, the soul of Fr. Augustine, Passionist. Known in the world as Matthew Hopkins, Fr. Augustine, C.P., was born at Kells, Co. Meath, on 8th June, 1870. Having shown unmistakable signs of a call from God to the Ministry of the Altar he passed successively through the Diocesan College, Navan, and the Irish National College, Maynooth, where his dearest aspiration was fulfilled by the reception of the Priesthood.
Returning to his native diocese, he laboured in various fields as a secular priest until God called him to a yet higher and larger sphere of activity in the Vineyard. Obedient as ever to the promptings of the Most High, Fr. Hopkins, after years of labour, left the world and sought admittance to the cloister in the Congregation of the Passion. His desire was granted, and he became a son of St. Paul of the Cross on 9th December, 1910. From this date the field of Fr. Augustine’s labours. for God was greatly enlarged. By his work in conducting missions, not only in Ireland but in Scotland and England, Fr. Augustine won a name which would have puffed up any man less well grounded in humility. His reputation as a confessor was truly unique. Crowds continually surrounded his confessional, where they received all the benefits of his mature wisdom and fatherly zeal and charity.
In the last office to which obedience called him, that of Chaplain to one of the largest hospitals in London, Fr. Augustine may be said to have worked day and night. If he was not in the church offering Holy Mass or hearing Confessions, he was to be found in the wards of his hospital administering the Last Sacraments or giving spiritual consolation to the sick and dying. Day after day, night after night, and often several times in a night, Fr. Augustine would be found hurrying to the hospital to give succour to some poor soul on its way to eternity. In the numerous religious houses in our Highgate parish, Fr. Augustine was ever a welcome visitor, and all will miss sadly the passing of their spiritual father.
What was the secret of Fr. Augustine’s unusual popularity both inside and outside the monastery The key may be found in his earnest attempt to live up to that high ideal: Sacerdos alter Christus. A lively Faith, a profound disregard of himself and his personal comfort, and a charity that embraced all poor sinners no matter how abandoned; these and many other virtues made Fr. Augustine truly and in very deed a “Soggarth Aroon.”
A Solemn Requiem Mass in the presence of a large congregation was sung in our Church of St. Joseph, Highgate, on Monday, 11th February, the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Malachy, C.P., being Celebrant and FF. Aidan and Clement deacon and subdeacon. Afterwards the remains were brought to their last resting place in the Private mausoleum in the garden of the Retreat. R. I. P.
(The Cross, Vol. XIX, 1928-29; p.393)