Bl. Basil Hopko
Also known as
• Vasil Hopko
• 23 July
Son of Anna Petrenko and Basil Hopko, poor, landless peasants. His father died when the boy was just a year old, and when he was four his mother emigrated to the United States to look for work. Educated in Hungary, graduating with honors in 1923. Trained at the Eparchial Seminary, Prjashev, Czechoslovakia. He had dreams of joining his mother in the United States, and of persuing his vocation there, but the cost of recurring health problems left him unable to afford to travel. When he finally decided to serve in his native land, he was suddenly cured, and realized he was been given a sign about his calling. Ordained on 3 February 1929. Parish priest in Prague where he was noted for a mission to the poor, the unemployed, and to students. Taught at the Eparchial Seminary in Prjashev. Awarded the title of Monsignor in 1936. Doctor of Theology in 1940. Auxiliary bishop of Prjashev, Slovakia on 11 May 1947.
Arrested on 28 April 1950 as part of the Communist government’s suppression of the Greek Catholic Church. He was kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks, he was eventually given a show trial and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome. He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison, and continually abused. His health, physical and emotional, failed, and in 1964 he was transferred to a home for the aged and kept under guard there. Though he managed to overcome severe depression, and went on to minister to a group of 120 nuns imprisoned at the home, he never recovered his physical health.
On 13 June 1968 his original eparchy was restored, but a group of activists insisted that a Slovak bishop be appointed to the see; Basil was removed. Deep divisions occured throughout the eparchy, not all of which have yet been settled. Father Basil died without being able to resume leadership of his flock. His death was a direct result of imprisonment, and he is considered one of the many martyred by Communism.
• 21 April 1904 at Hrabské, Prešovský kraj, eastern Slovakia
• 23 July 1976 at Prešov, Prešovský kraj, Slovakia
• 7 July 2003 by Pope John Paul II (decree of martyrdom)
• 14 September 2003 by Pope John Paul II at Bratislava, Slovakia