Hornung, Leo Fr. (1912-1999)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter
Birth / Death: 

born 19 April 1912, Eltmann (Würzburg)

died 26 July 1999, Limburg, age 86

Spent ten years in the Kimberley as rector of Wandering, LaGrange and Beagle Bay. Was briefly interned in 1940. Better known for his work among postwar German migrants in Victoria.


Leo Benedikt Onuprhius was one of 15 children (11 surviving childhood) of Johannes and Christine Hornung. One of his brothers entered the priesthood and Leo decided early in life to become a missionary. After four years of primary school he joined the Pallottine college in Freising and completed his high school certificate (Abitur) there in 1932. He the entered the novitiate at Olpe, made his profession in May 1934, and studied in Limburg before going to London to learn English. He was ordained in Limburg on 25 March 1937 and left Germany in June 1939 together with Br. Hubert Beldermann.


He arrived at Beagle Bay shortly before the outbreak of World War II and was one of the German Pallottines rounded up for internment in 1940, after which he was not allowed to return north and commenced parish work as assistant priest at Surrey Hills in Melbourne under the direction of Archbishop Mannix for the duration of the war.


He acquired Australian citizenship and returned to mission work, at Tardun and for four years as mission superior at Wandering (1948-1951), where Italian prisoners of war assisted in the building projects. In 1951 he moved into the Pallottine house at Rivervale in Perth, and became the first parish priest at Riverton, using the public hall for Sunday mass until he had raised enough money to build a church in Tribute Street opened on 23 August 1953.


In 1954 he returned to the Kimberley and supervised La Grange, which commenced in 1956, and became rector at Beagle Bay 1957-59.


In 1959 he moved to Victoria to minister to German Catholic migrants in Victoria and established St. Christopher’s Migrant Centre in Richmond and edited the newsletter Christopherus. For this work he received a Cross of Merit 1st class (Bundesverdienstkreuz) in 1978.


He suffered from the effects of a serious road accident and from lingering home sickness. In 1981 he returned to Germany where he worked for another decade as chaplain in the St. Franziskushaus (retirement home) in Elspe, then joined the Olpe residential community for two years, and moved to the retirement section (Seniorenstation) in Limburg, where he celebrated the iron jubilee of his profession on 1 May 1999.1



1 Totenbrief, tribute by John Luemmen, Pallottine Necrology, and list of Rectors of Missions, Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Australia) Archives, Rossmoyne