Fr Andrew Bass: sustained in a ministry of pastoral care

National Vocations Awareness Week: 7-14 August 2016
Fr Andrew Bass said he was blessed to have the support of family and friends (from left): his mum Irene Bass, Doris Portelli, Fr Andrew, John Portelli, his father Michael Bass and Spiro Portelli. Photo: Richard Zaiter.

Source: Catholic Outlook, August 2016

Fr Andrew Bass is the Parish Priest of two parishes – Holy Trinity at Granville and Holy Family at East Granville. He said the support and friendship of parishioners in these vibrant faith communities sustains him in his ministry of pastoral care.

“In caring for two parishes I have tried to recognise the distinct character of each parish but also what is common and to draw together the two parishes as one community,” Fr Andrew said. “We all have a common faith, a common liturgy, a common need for holiness and so I try to provide and to facilitate opportunities for growth, both liturgically and socially.”

Fr Andrew said he has been blessed with the loving support of family and friends. “It was from my parents that I learned the value of the faith. Living in Saudi Arabia where the practice of all faiths other than Islam is outlawed they held on to their faith and risked everything to practise it.”

Photo: Richard Zaiter.

Photo: Richard Zaiter.

Fr Andrew said the life of a parish priest, as for any priest, was a life of sacrifice. “As a priest you are drawn into the lives of many men and women, into both the good and the bad, the joys and sorrows,” he said. “The priest gives not just what he wants to give or does only what he wants to do but is there to make known the faith of the Church and, by the grace of God, to draw men and women to their salvation.”

Fr Andrew said Holy Trinity Parish’s Facebook page was a remarkable success thanks to the work of John Portelli and Rosette Chidiac, who began the page and manage it day after day. “The importance of the page lies in the fact that it not only seeks to make known the good works of the parish and upcoming events but also, on a daily basis, to edify people,” Fr Andrew said.

“Today people are reluctant to pray, or they may not think they have the time to pray, or they may not even know how to pray. This Facebook page has short prayers and meditations which can, we hope, even for a moment, raise people’s minds to God and to things eternal.”

Following his priestly ordination in 2008, Fr Andrew was appointed Assistant Priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, then Administrator in 2014. He celebrated Mass daily and on Sundays, and heard confessions.

Fr Andrew was chaplain to St Patrick’s Primary School and Parramatta Marist High School. “I visited the primary school weekly for class visits and confessions. At Parramatta Marist High School I spent three days a week there to say Mass twice a week (once before school and once at lunch) as well as pray the rosary and hear confessions. I began a youth group for Year 5 and 6 students, which ran for a number of years.

“I was also the chaplain to Marian Nursing Home where I would visit the sick and celebrate Mass for the residents monthly.

“In 2012, Bishop Anthony asked me to offer the extraordinary form of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass), which I did on a weekly basis in the Cathedral on Saturday mornings.”

In 2012, Fr Andrew was appointed Diocesan Master of Ceremonies by Bishop Anthony after holding the position of Assistant Diocesan Master of Ceremonies since 2008.

“I consider the liturgy to be the core of the practice of the Catholic faith. It is not only the source and summit of our faith but it is the most perfect means by which we can offer worship to almighty God because the liturgy is not something created by man but given to us by God in which man participates,” he said. “It should be the anchor of our lives with which we steady ourselves against the torments and gain the strength to persevere in faith and good works.”

In 2014, Bishop Anthony asked him to take up studies in Sacred Liturgy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

“Living in Rome, living in the mind and heart of the Church, reminded me of the universality of the Church and the faith. To be able to walk by the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica every day, and to have it become commonplace, was an astounding experience.”

On his return from Rome last year, Fr Andrew was appointed Administrator and then Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Parish, Granville, and Holy Family Parish, East Granville.

“The role of the Parish Priest is first and foremost the pastoral care of the parish entrusted to him,” he said.

“As the Catechism says, Holy Orders is the Sacrament by which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles is exercised throughout the Church until the end of time. The Priest is ordained to offer the sacrifice of the Mass and to stand in the person of Christ to minister the grace of the Sacraments. In this way he makes known to his parishioners what has been made known to him and seeks to build up the kingdom of God in that particular place, to make saints of his people.”

Fr Andrew’s advice to men contemplating priesthood is to love the Mass. “Believe that the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments are the foundation for your vocation. In the Mass you will find the meaning and purpose of who you are.”

To find out more about priesthood in the Diocese of Parramatta and Holy Spirit Seminary, please send an email to the Director of Priestly Vocations: vocations@parra.catholic.org.au

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