Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.
he Passionist Bishop and Martyr Eugene Bossilkov was born November 16, 1900 in Belene (Bulgaria), a village in the Danube Valley. His family were farmers and Catholics of the Latin Rite. They gave him the name Vincent at baptism.
In 1914 he began his studies with the Passionists, who had been missionaries in northern Bulgaria since the late 1700s. He studied in Passionist seminaries in Belgium and Holland, and in 1920 became a professed member of that community. He took the name Eugene, and to the vows taken by religious, he joined the additional vow taken by the Passionists: to keep in constant memory the Passion of Jesus.
In 1924, he returned to Bulgaria to continue his theological studies and was ordained by the Passionist Bishop Damian Theelen in 1926.
In 1927 he was sent to Rome to pursue doctoral studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, where he wrote his thesis: On the Union of Bulgarians with the Roman Church in the Early 13th Century. In 1933 he returned to his diocese, to become secretary to the bishop and pastor of the cathedral. Since he preferred ministry with the people, however, he was assigned as pastor of the town of Bardaski-Gheran (pictured at right), in the Danube valley, where he brought new life into the parish through his liturgical and catechetical efforts. He was especially concerned for the young whom he tried to inspire through a variety of religious, social and sports programs.
His reputation grew: a gifted linguist, a cultured scholar, he was generally admired. In 1938, on the 250th anniversary of the Catholic insurrection against the Turks, he was chosen as the official speaker.
But times changed.
| email questions or
about this page to Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.