Father Augustine John Hinches
AGE: 84 • Andover Township
Father Augustine John Hinches of St. Paul's Abbey, Andover Township, died quietly early Sunday morning, May 25, 2014, at St. Catherine of Siena Health Care Center, Caldwell, NJ., at the age of 84 having lived with Parkinson's for many years. Fr. Augustine was born in Orange on February 17, 1930, the youngest child of John and Adele Hinches.
He grew up in Sacred Heart Parish in the Vailsburg section of Newark. He was graduated from Seton Hall Prep in 1947. That same year he came to the Benedictine Mission Seminary at St. Paul's Abbey for college, having first come into contact with the monastery by attending Camp St. Benedict. He entered the abbey in 1949 and professed his first vows as a Benedictine monk on August 15, 1950. This was followed by solemn vows on August 15, 1953. On June 4, 1955 he was ordained a priest for the abbey at St. John's Cathedral in Paterson. Over the years he helped out pastorally on weekends in parishes in the county and beyond.
From his early days in the monastery he was involved in the business office and from 1959 to 1966 served as the abbey business manager. In 1963 he acquired a Master's degree in economics from Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition, he oversaw the physical plant of the monastery and its operations. In December 1966 he was appointed prior administrator of the community until his election as the second abbot of St. Paul's Abbey on September 3, 1970. He was blessed as abbot by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey the following day.
In the 50s and early 60s he served as the official photographer of the community. When the monastery beekeeper left for a mission assignment in South Africa in 1950, it was Fr. Augustine who took over this post which he held until 1990. He was a member of the Morris County Beekeepers Association and hosted meetings of the Sussex County Beekeepers Association at the abbey. He also wrote articles for beekeeper journals. After his resignation as abbot in March 1982, Fr. Augustine took on the management of the Abbey Christmas Tree Farm full time and it is for this that he locally well-known having done many interviews and stories about the farm in local papers. Under his direction the farm expanded in size with a variety of trees and the 'choose and cut' operation was solidified. He was an active member of the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association.
When the Benedictine monks of Waegwan Abbey, South Korea, were invited to take over the monastery in 2001, he was asked to remain and assist as his working knowledge of the property and business operations was invaluable. By 2005 his Parkinson's seriously limited his outside activities though he continued to participate in the community's life. In March of this year he transferred to St. Catherine of Siena Health Care Center where he was well cared for and respected.
Fr. Augustine is survived by his fellow monks at St. Paul's Abbey, his sisters Dorothea Waterfall of Medford, MA., and Betty Quirk of Madison, NJ., as well as nieces and nephews. His sister, Katherine Forsythe, predeceased him in March.
Visitation will be at St. Paul's Abbey on Thursday from 3:30pm to 8:00pm, followed by Vigils of the Dead at 8pm. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30am Friday, May 30, followed by burial in the abbey Christ the King Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High Street, Newton. Online condolences may be offered at www.smithmccrackenfuneralhome.com