Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 22, 1999
Hungarian pastor gave himself to his parish
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Salesian Father Jozsef Gyorgy Hamor, the former pastor of Edmonton's Hungarian Catholic community, was a leader, a scholar and an excellent pianist, poet and playwright.
He was also a "very generous person" who never collected his parish salary and gave himself totally to the Hungarian community and his Salesian order.
Hamor, the pastor of St. Emeric Hungarian Parish for 39 years, died Feb. 13. He was 85.
"He was a man of prayer who even in his last year never missed Mass," recalled Father Luc Lantagne, the superior of the Salesians who replaced Hamor as St. Emeric's pastor in 1996. "He celebrated Mass privately in Latin. He never missed a day."
Hamor was also a "great scholar" and "a man of knowledge who did studies in Hungary and Canada." He spoke six languages fluently, including Latin, which he used in his daily prayers.
He was also a man of great humour who would play with words, noted Lantagne. "He would have been an excellent actor."
An actor he wasn't but he was a playwright who wrote several plays for his parish and for Hungarian settlements over the years.
He was also an excellent pianist who brought that quality into all his celebrations, Lantagne recalled. His main source of income for many years came from piano lessons he gave. He never collected salary from his parish for 39 years as he wanted to help the parish to pay its debt faster.
"He lived a very Spartan life but he was very happy," Lantagne said.
"He was a strong, intelligent leader who gave himself totally to preserve Hungarian culture and tradition," said Father Joseph Occhio, associate pastor at St. Emeric for the past two years.
He taught at St. Mary's School and founded St. Emeric Catholic School, Occhio said.
Hamor was born Sept. 17, 1914 at Szentendre, Hungary. He entered a Salesian junior high school in 1928 and at the end of that year became a Salesian novice.
He made his first profession as a Salesian in 1930 and was ordained a priest for that order in 1940. From 1940 to 1950 Hamor did his ministry as an associate pastor, then as an academic dean, as a catechist and as a director of Novitiate Seminary in Mezonyarad.
With the communist takeover of Hungary in 1950, all of Hamor's ministry as a priest came to a dead stop.
From 1950 to 1956 he survived as a teacher and as a musician. With the Hungary uprising of October 1956, Hamor was asked to flee Hungary with a group of Salesian seminarians.
He arrived in Edmonton on April 13, 1957 and was given the pastoral care of the local Catholic Hungarian community.
"From 1957 to now, Father Jozsef has been the spiritual guide, friend and father to his devoted parishioners, putting his abilities as a scholar, musician, playwright, liturgist, linguist and teacher to the service of all," Lantagne said.
"For the Hungarian community, he's the only pastor they've ever known."