He is as irreverent as all the former acolytes you know, but you would never guess from the hundreds who turned up to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination at the Holy Trinity Church in Arouca on Friday, June 3.
He is as regular as the average John Doe you would meet on the street, but you would never guess, from the glowing tribute paid to him by none other than Dr Roy Austin, United States Ambassador, Maurice Bishop – former Grenadian Revolutionary, Leela Ramdeen – head of the local Social Justice Commission, and the little old ladies from New Grant, Delaford, Lopinot, Tacarigua and Arouca.
He has a bachelor's degree, two masters' degrees and a doctorate, but you would never guess, from his constant attempts to make you laugh and engage you in the simplest of conversations which, only on hindsight, sometimes, you realise there was a lesson hidden in there.
He built a lawn tennis court for the New Grant parish before he built a shrine. He was deported from Trinidad in the early 1970s but has returned to continue his work.
He proudly admits that white men can't jump, and that he cannot wine. And in the midst of all of this, Fr Neil Rodriguez is still trying to make him holy.
He is Fr Patrick Bascio CSSp, fondly referred to as “Fr Pat”, or simply “Pat”, a height-challenged (short), hair-challenged (bald), visually- challenged (bespectacled), melanin-challenged (white), and some feminists say gender-challenged (man) person, who has come into the fabric of our lives in the communities he has served, but unlike the song, refuses to fade and disappear. He is as challenging as he is challenged.
Fr Pat is a wonderful example of what it means to live your life surrounded by the love of God, living out your truth, enjoying your work and making a difference in the life of the community. He is a wonderful example of a priest.
Fr Neil Rodriguez, parish priest of Arouca addresses the congregation at the June 3 celebration of the 50h anniversary of priestly ordination of Fr Pat Bascio (third from left). Also in picture are Fr Peter de la Bastide and Spiritan Provincial Fr Herbert Charles.
He celebrated his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination with Holy Mass concelebrated by his Holy Ghost confreres including Frs Michel de Verteuil, Herbert Charles, Peter de la Bastide and Roland Quesnel, who also celebrated his golden anniversary of priestly ordination.
It was a celebration which featured the Kyrie , Gloria and Lamb of God all being done in Swahili by the combined choir from Lopinot, Surrey , Tacarigua and Arouca. This was in keeping with Fr Pat's own desire to have liturgical celebrations more inclusive and indeed, more respectful of the cultures in which they are celebrated.
His first posting as a priest was in Tanzania , where he met and befriended the late President Julius Nyrere. His subsequent work in Harlem and the Bronx in the USA and in Carriacou and the Turks and Caicos Islands cemented his love for work in and among black people.
Fr Pat is also credited with celebrating the first Swahili Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the early 1970s, though he was deported from Trinidad one week later.
In delivering the homily, Holy Ghost Provincial Fr Herbert Charles reminded the congregation of Jesus' invitation to “learn from me”, an invitation that Fr Pat had certainly responded to in his fifty years as a priest.
According to Fr Charles, to learn from Jesus was to get to know him intimately - through the scriptures, through his examples and through God's people. It was Fr Pat's acceptance of this invitation, he continued, that led him to devote himself to service of God's people, not only here in Trinidad and Tobago but in the USA and Africa.
Also paying tribute were United States Ambassador, Dr Roy Austin, who lauded Fr Pat for his contribution to academia through the many books he has written, and Leela Ramdeen, head of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, who spoke glowingly about Fr Pat's role in ensuring peace and justice for those on the margins of society.
Fr Pat can still be found at the Holy Trinity RC Church in Arouca, walking around the yard with a stick in his hand, trying to fend off the parishioners who wish to teach him to jump, wine and wave.