Eddie’s big lesson

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In St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Eddy Borovnjak holds the crucifix given to him by his aunt. It has been a powerful sacramental for the father of three. Photos: Giovanni Portelli

One man’s mission: to put God first and tell everyone how faith changed his life

Where others might see coincidences, Eddy Borovnjak sees the loving hand of Providence and doesn’t waste an opportunity to tell others, including his nearly 3000 YouTube followers, about the God he loves.

The 45–year-old Sydney father of three is a cheerfully enthusiastic Catholic evangelist who has already touched tens of thousands of people with his faith testimonies and stories of the saints on social media.

Today he is touching hearts with his peaceful acceptance of a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Eddy is an acolyte at Ryde-Gladesville Parish and Holy Name of Mary Parish, Rydalmere and a well-loved presence in the Sydney Catholic scene.

Tall and dark-eyed, his distinctive features are due to some facial paralysis resulting from life-saving surgery seven years ago. At that time he was fighting a rare form of stage 4 cancer.

Now the cancer has returned, this time in his spine and throughout his body and he is told he may need hospice care within weeks. And while he has already experienced miraculous healings, physical and spiritual, he is putting his whole trust in God.

“I’ve never felt closer to Our Lord than I do now and I love Him very much. I have this peace in my heart, this acceptance of God’s will, whatever his will is I’m happy. I know he could heal me in a second, but we’re all going to die at some point and he knows what’s good for us,” he told The Catholic Weekly in his light-filled hospital room at St Vincent’s Hospital last week.

“The crosses I’ve had in my life over the past few years brought me closer to Jesus and he gives me the strength inside to carry it, although my body’s falling apart I feel closer now to Jesus and I’m glad that I can offer some suffering up. I’ve been captivated by the attitude of St Therésè [of Lisieux] to suffering and so I think it’s a real honour to have some sufferings to offer up, not as well as her of course,” he laughs. “But I do my best and I think that’s all we can do isn’t it?”

Parish priest of Holy Name of Mary Fr Peter Lamont said Eddy is a “great lay evangelist” who has brought people back to the practice of their faith.

“He’s been very open about his struggles in life, always asks for and listens to my advice and tries not to be over-zealous in sharing his strong faith,” he said.

“We are all constantly praying for him.” Last Thursday more than 100 people joined an online rosary to pray for Eddy and ask the intercession of another well-known Sydney Catholic, also a Servant of God, Eileen O’Connor.

Last Friday Eddy was professed as a secular member of the Franciscan Order, which happened to be the feast of St Martha.

I’ve been captivated by the attitude of St Therésè [of Lisieux] towards suffering and so I think it’s a real honour to have some sufferings to offer up …” – Eddy Borovnjak

On the day he asked the event to be brought forward because of his illness, the Gospel reading was about Christ’s visit to Martha’s house. She also happened to be selected for him as a patron saint for 2022 as part of his Franciscan formation – another blessed coincidence.

Eddy also belongs to the Knights of the Immaculata, a Catholic evangelisation movement, and the St Vincent de Paul Society. He’s dedicated the last seven years to learning about and living his faith, doing good works, evangelising in person and through videos and writing his (soon to be published) memoir.

Eddie is a regular presence at many Sydney Catholic events. He is pictured here volunteering at the March for Life in 2019. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

It’s quite a story. Eddy lost interest in religion after school, married and started climbing the corporate ladder as an actuary. But his life and relationships began unravelling due to drugs, alcohol and gambling when he was first diagnosed with cancer.

Then he says he experienced healing from raging infection after being anointed by a priest. At that point, he began to realise that God is real and listens to prayers.

He detoured through New Age healing practices before realising, after more special graces, big and small, that his health and happiness lay in committing to the fullness of his Catholic faith. He has been learning about and sharing it ever since.

Many who encounter him relate to his story, or are inspired by hearing how God has worked in his life. “It encourages them to maybe pray as well and try to come close to God,” he said.

“When I first came back to faith I really tried to live it fully every day and realised it’s actually not that easy. I realised how dependent I am on God’s grace. I make mistakes. But with God’s grace, with the sacraments, with prayer and reading spiritual books, getting spiritual direction and practical tips from others, God helps you to change.

“I’ve been trying my best to be a good father for my kids and a good friend to the people around me, but my mission has been to put God first and to try to live the way Jesus taught us.

“It’s been fun, it’s been an adventure. Sometimes people might think religion is boring, but the truth about our existence is incredible.

Some of Eddie’s devotional items. Photos: Giovanni Portelli

“God puts people in your life and you start to see a whole world out there – it’s his kingdom being built. We have the sacraments to help us, and all the saints and all our guardian angels constantly praying for us and helping us and we can see it working in people’s lives and in our own lives.”

“That’s why I’m so impatient about evangelising. You want people to see it. This is the truth, there’s so much here, there’s peace here, there’s eternal life.”

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