Diocesan News

East Elmhurst Priest is Latest Victim of COVID-19

(Photo: DeSales Media Group)

The Tablet Staff

EAST ELMHURST — A man of service and a father to all is how Father Gioacchino Basile is described by those who knew him best. His life was tragically cut short April 4.

Father Basile, pastor of Saint Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, Queens, is the latest priest to pass away due to complications associated with COVID-19.

Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn said in a statement: “Father Gioacchino Basile, a native of Calabria, Italy who died today, was small in stature, but mighty in energy for the Lord. Unfortunately, Father’s underlying health conditions made it difficult for him to fight the virus. In addition to English and Italian, Father spoke Spanish fluently and ministered well to all of the people of his parish and the faithful of the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens.”

Father Basile, 60, was ordained a priest on May 27, 1995. He first ministered as parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s in New Jersey, was then released to work in the Diocese of Ponce (Puerto Rico) and then released to the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he was assigned Administrator of Saint Gabriel’s in 2008.

A video of Father Basile singing at a priest’s retreat is how his closest friend, Father Sean Manson, wants to remember him.

“He was full of joy. He wasn’t pompous, he wasn’t preachy, he was a down-to-earth guy. You saw that God exists looking at him,” explained Father Manson, pastor of Our Lady Mother of the Church in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Father Basile’s death comes one week after the passing of Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay,, the first U.S. priest believed to have died from complications associated with the coronavirus.

Father Gioacchino’s parishioners considered him a spiritual guide, looking to him during times of sadness and grief. Jessie Lema is one of them.

“Maybe because I loved him so much, he was a saint,” Lema said. “I give thanks to God that he gave me the chance to know him.” Father Basile would have celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination next month.

“He always had a smile and made you feel welcome, he heard my confessions and was always available. He was a spiritual father to me,” recalled Father Miguel Angel Cervantes, now acting pastor at St. Gabriel’s. He believes Father Basile contracted the virus at church.

Father Basile was already on medical leave from his duties as pastor at St. Gabriel’s when it was discovered he had contracted coronavirus.

“We had positive cases of coronavirus in the parish and that’s how he got the virus,” Cervantes said. “He was in contact with the people when no one knew it was present. “

Father Basile was trained in the Neocatecumenal Movement and served as the Spiritual Director of Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Douglaston. He also assisted as a chaplain at LaGuardia Airport.

St. Gabriel’s vicar, Father Bob Sandlack, had been serving alongside Father Basile for years. He said his parish has lost a father, and he has lost a friend. “In any situation, he was able to laugh. He had an uplifting spirit, nothing saddened him,” Sandlack recalled. “I’ll miss his love.”

A memorial Mass at St. Gabriel’s will be livestreamed on Wednesday, April 8, at 3:30 p.m., and when social distancing is no longer required, a public Mass will be held in Father Basile’s honor.

13 thoughts on “East Elmhurst Priest is Latest Victim of COVID-19

  1. Time for the soul to cry. I was a lector at the St. Joseph Church, in Peñuelas, PR, where @oadre Joaquino”, served for around ten years. He will be remembered as the most spiritual person he was. We learned so much from his humility and dedication! May he rest in the loving arms if our Lord, Jesus Christ! ❤️🙏🏽🌈✝️

  2. My God, my God how much more can your people bear ? I am not, questioning you on your authority. But as your ambassador or your servant is waiting for spiritual divine healing. What a beautiful name it is, what a wonderful name it is the, mighty name of Jesus Christ the King. We come humble to ask for your unconditionally love of the fruits of the Holy Spirit to empower, motivate and deliver us from evil. Lord we come before as children of God to guide and declare that deliverance is Near. We worship you we adore you, as Jesus and Lord. Let all say the words Savior, taught us to pray. Our Father who art in heaven, let gather as one Nation, under as God’s eucharistic people, meaning God’s Thanksgiving people. May the wonderful working power, fall on us in United States of America, from sea to shining sea. No other name I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. Warm regards Bro. Phillip Anthony Cuffe Sr. Davenport Florida USA 33837

  3. Fr Gioacchino was a good man and a good priest, who loved God and who loved His church and it’s people. Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
    and let perpetual light shine upon him.

  4. Even though I did not know you you are loved by me and all god gave you his church I can give you your respect to say you will be missed by all May God have mercy on all your souls and have left this earth and the souls of the deli department rest in peace my friend God bless

  5. I have met the late Frs. Ortiz (RIP) and Basile, as well as the third NYC Priest also suffering with this avoidable plague. All 3 of these NYC Priests are living paradigms of Mother Teresa (in fact, they all also met Mother Teresa at least once in their ministry).

    The three priests labored excruciatingly all thru these years to bring spiritual as well as corporeal relief to their parishioners in direly impoverished East Elmhurst & Brooklyn. The E. Elm priests alternated in their early morning two masses at 7 and 8 am, affording the denizens of Queens an opportunity to receive God’s grace prior to starting their work or school day. You could call and meet either one of them (including the still-quarantined Fr. Bob) even at 1 am on any given day.

    The church and city needs to buoy these latter-day saints as, in such times of veritable plagues and crises, the human self depends on spiritual sustenance as much as corporeal intake.

    May God bless these priests, health-care workers, reporters, and all served by these guardian angels.

  6. May his soul find eternal repose with the Creator. May he rest in peace. Amen!

    May the hope for the resurrection give meaningful consolation to the faithful and the grieving family!

  7. Desde Oviedo (España)
    Ofrezco mis oraciones por los sacerdotes de la Diocesis victimas del VIRUS. Fr.Basile…Fr. Ortiz-Garay…Fr.Kirby y Fr.Sweeney
    Soy Celso Gonzalez (Fr. Gonzalez)
    Veinte años en la Parroquia St. Anthony of Padua con Fr. Biutigrg y Fr. James Mueller. Alli estaba como Altar Boy el ahora Rector de Cathedral Prep…James Kuroly
    En N.Y. estuve desde Julio 1974 al 15 de Junio de 1994

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