Bastress, Rev. Msgr. Arthur William

Bastress, Rev. Msgr. Arthur William

Male 1926 - 2020  (93 years)

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  • Name Bastress, Arthur William 
    Title Rev. Msgr. 
    Born 7 Nov 1926 
    Gender Male 
    Died 16 Jul 2020 
    • Arthur is a Reverend Monsignor of St. Alphonsus in Baltimore, in the Catholic church
    • Still Asking Questions at 88

      April 9, 2015

      He's still asking questions

      In 1935, Arthur Bastress was in Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, receiving the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. He was stricken with a form of pneumonia, and appendicitis, and his doctors didn't give him much of a chance of survival. Meanwhile, his mother Francis was in another wing giving birth to his sister, Joan Marie.

      One of the Sisters of Bon Secours told Arthur, who was 7 years old at the time, to pray. He looked across the room at a crucifix hanging on the wall.

      "If Jesus makes me well," he prayed, "I'll do whatever He wants me to do."

      Msgr Bastress

      Sixteen years later, Bastress was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Today, Monsignor Bastress, 88, serves as the pastor of The National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Baltimore. The seed of his priestly vocation was planted by his parents, Francis and Arthur Milton Bastress, and it bloomed on that day in the hospital 80 years ago. To this day, it continues to develop and grow.

      "A vocation is not something that happens once," Msgr. Bastress said. "You grow in it. Psychologists tell you there's a sort of grieving period every time you move to a new place, but I've never felt that. I've always just thought, OK, Lord. What do we gotta do now?"

      It all started at home with his mother, who had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, and his father, a Presbyterian with a deep love of Scripture who later converted to Catholicism. The Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary helped teach him discipline at school, and had such an impact on the Bastress family that his sister Joan Marie, now 80, is a nun in the order. His three brothers, Jack (86), Paul (75) and Bob (70) all found their vocations in Holy Matrimony, and all five siblings keep in touch to this day.

      "The seeds of vocation have a lot to do with how you're raised and how you're taught to understand the Faith," Msgr. Bastress said. "My vocation started in my home when I was a youngster. It was the family. I don?t know how my parents could be so good, but they were. They were a tremendous example."

      Though always inquisitive, Msgr. Bastress says he wasn't the best student as a child, and he was rejected by the Jesuits out of high school. After his ordination in 1951 by Archbishop Francis Patrick Keough, he experienced doubts about his priestly vocation. His father made sure that didn't last long.

      "He didn?t say a whole lot," Msgr. Bastress recalled of the conversation with his father. He just said, "Remember when the bishop laid his hands on you? What happened when you put your hands in his?" I said, "Well, I was promising obedience, to be faithful to him and his successors."

      He just said, "Oh?"

      "I knew exactly what he was saying. He was saying what he always said to us: You want to be a man? Well you'd better stand up and be a man. Being honest, keeping your word, that's what makes you a man." I can honestly say that I've never met another man who could compare to my dad. That's the kind of example he set.

      Firmly planted in his vocation, questions remained, questions Msgr. Bastress continues asking to this day.

      ?I still ask those questions?What is priesthood to me, and do I really want to still do it??and my God, here I am at 88 years old,? he said. ?If you don?t keep at it and keep answering the questions, you?re doing something wrong.?
      Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, the "Cheerful Ascetic," served as pastor of St. Alphonsus in 1854. Msgr. Bastress looks to him for inspiration to this day.

      Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, the ?Cheerful Ascetic,? served as pastor of St. Alphonsus in 1854. Msgr. Bastress looks to him for inspiration to this day.

      The answers to those questions first began surfacing when Bastress was sitting in an empty confessional at St. Alphonsus, where he was named pastor in 1998. He was reading ?Cheerful Ascetic: The Life of Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R.?

      Blessed Francis Seelos was the pastor at St. Alphonsus in 1854.

      ?I was very impressed with his life,? Msgr. Bastress said, ?and one day I'm sitting in the confessional reading about him and I realized I'm sitting in the confessional he used to use. I thought, "My God!" Then, I looked at the book again, and I thought, "That's always what I've wanted to be as a priest."

      He's strived to emulate Blessed Fr. Seelos ever since.

      "Life has just gone on as life would be," he said, "and I know what I'm supposed to be. I think most of the priesthood is just being. It's a way of life, not a profession. You might be a professional minister or preacher or social worker, but who are you? That's a very important question for a priest to ask, and I started asking that question a long time ago."
    • On July 16, 2020 Rev. Msgr. Arthur W. Bastress, P.A.; beloved son of the late Frances E. (Sellman) Bastress and Arthur M. Bastress; devoted brother of John L Bastress, Sr. Joan Marie, I.H.M., Paul C. Bastress (Beverly) and Robert L. Bastress (Diane). Also survived by many nieces and nephews.

      Monsignor will return to his first pastorate and lie in State at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd. on Sunday from 4 to 8 PM, where a wake service will be held at 7 PM and on Monday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen 5200 N. Charles St. from 10 to 11 AM when a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated. Interment Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery
    Person ID I248  Philip Basters (Bastress) Family Tree - b. 1735
    Last Modified 28 Oct 2020 

    Father Bastress, Arthur Milton,   b. 4 Sep 1900,   d. 28 Sep 1961  (Age 61 years) 
    Mother Sellman, Francis Elizabeth,   b. 26 Jun 1905, Baltimore, MD Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jul 1997  (Age 92 years) 
    Married 14 Oct 1925 
    Family ID F63  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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    Arthur W Bastress
    Arthur W Bastress
    Arthur W Bastress