A Mass of Christian burial for Msgr. Howard Basler, former director of the Social Action Dept. of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, was celebrated Oct. 17 at St. Ephrem’s Church, Dyker Heights.
Msgr. Basler, 83, died Oct. 13 at Bishop Mugavero Residence, Douglaston, where he had been living for the past couple of months.
Born in Dyker Heights, Msgr. Basler attended St. Ephrem’s School; Cathedral Prep and College, Brooklyn; and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. He was ordained May 31, 1958.
He served as an assistant at St. Andrew Avellino, Flushing, 1958, and St. Matthias, Ridgewood, 1958, before being assigned to the faculty of Cathedral Prep, Brooklyn. He joined the faculty at Cathedral Prep, Elmhurst, when that branch opened in 1963.
He also served as assistant director for vocations, assistant director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, a member and secretary of the Priests’ Senate, president of the Catholic High School Athletic Association, a member of The Tablet’s editorial advisory board.
In 1978, he became a member of the staff of the Office of Catholic Education, and in 1983 was named director of social action for Catholic Charities.
He also was an editorial writer and weekly columnist for The Tablet for more than 30 years.
He was named a monsignor in 1983.
For more than 25 years, he was a weekend assistant at St. Sebastian’s Church, Woodside, where a scholarship is named in his honor in the parish school.
In 2006, he retired and had been living in a private residence in Flushing until moving to Bishop Mugavero Residence.
Father Thomas Pettei, episcopal vicar for Brooklyn, was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Msgrs. Vincent Keane and Peter Kain and Fathers Robert Adamo and Robert Lauder.
In his homily, Father Lauder called Msgr. Basler “one of the most talented and most intelligent priests” he had ever met.
He also noted that he was one of the most humble priests. “He never complained. He just did his job the best he could. He was totally dedicated. He was all priest.”
Father Lauder said that Msgr. Basler never received the recognition he deserved and he did not look for it.
Noting that Msgr. Basler had been ill for the better part of the past 10 years, he said it was a shame that more young priests did not know him because he would have served as a tremendous role model.
Father Adamo explained that the funeral was held at St. Ephrem’s in accordance with Msgr. Basler’s wishes because it was the parish where he had been raised. He noted that Msgr. Basler’s parents had been active parishioners and were part of the committee that helped build the parish church.
Msgr. Basler is survived by two brothers, Frank of Delaware and Joseph of Scotland.
Burial was in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.