Biographies

Brother Augustine McKernan, MM

Born: November 9, 1896
Oath: September 24, 1930
Died: April 28, 1937

Hugh Charles McKernan was born on November 9, 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After high school Hugh took a course in a business school. He joined the armed forces during the first World War. After the Armistice he came home and did secretarial work until, in 1923, he felt God calling him to be a Maryknoll Brother. He took the name of Augustine.

Brother Augustine was a very intelligent man and one with considerable secretarial experience but he had a natural antipathy for such work and so, at his own request, he was assigned to do manual labor instead.

In 1927 he was assigned to Kaying. There are letters in the Society files from him to Father General which speak eloquently of his affection for the Kaying Mission field. He developed a remarkable attachment for its Ordinary and its priests, and he loved the Chinese people for whom he worked, counting it a joy to be considered one of them. Nevertheless, when the command came for him to leave and go to the Korean Mission where his services were sorely needed, he did not complain, though his heart was heavy. It meant a new Oriental language to learn, a new environment to face, a different race to love, but he put his heart into it and did his work well.

In the winter of 1936 he received permission to come home for his decennial vacation. He was asked to accompany Father Leo Steinbach who was returning for medical attention. While en route back to the United States, Brother Augustine fell ill and died at sea. Brother Augustine was the first Maryknoller to die at sea but had the grace of receiving the Last Rites from Fr. Steinbach.

Brother Augustine’s piety was that of a man. He was courageous in bearing various physical difficulties. He was a man who threw himself into his work; nor did he glory in his accomplishments. Rather, he preferred St. Joseph’s type of life, behind the scenes, dedicated to helping Maryknoll’s priests in all their needs.

Brother was buried in our cemetery at Los Altos.