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Fr Peter’s final act

“Hey, I’m gone, look at your life.” This could have been the message from Fr Peter de la Bastide CSSp to family, friends and others who knew him as they gathered for his Funeral Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1) at St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown. Fr de la Bastide, 64 years, died October 28; he had been ailing for some time.

Fr Ronald Mendes CSSp, Provincial Superior, said: “Whatever Peter has been to so many different people throughout the course of his 33 years of priestly ministry and whatever Peter has done or said or encouraged anyone else to do, the last act that he is doing is right here, right now, because he has called us here before the Lord to worship God this morning in this Church.”

Death is a reminder of mortality but the Lord, through the late Fr de la Bastide, calls those gathered to prepare themselves. Fr Mendes said, “He has called us here that we could reflect upon our own life and recognise what is not of God and turn away from it and recognise where the Lord is calling us and follow that.”

Fr Ronald Mendes CSSp blesses the coffin for the Reception of the Body to start the funeral liturgy. Looking on are Archbishop Robert Rivas OP, Fr Carlyle Guiseppi CSSp and Deacon Tristram Mathura

The Gospel was from Matthew 5:1–12, the Beatitudes. Fr Mendes said not all may be applicable to one’s life but at least one will, and the Lord is asking for faithfulness. “Whatever we do we don’t backtrack in fidelity to the Lord.”

Fr de la Bastide tried to be faithful in his life. He was a missionary in Brazil for six years then returned to Trinidad and Tobago. “He tried to live his own gifts, whatever they might have been. We can’t tell, other than what we saw. We saw he had a real gift for communication. He tried to live that, and no one can say he wasn’t faithful to it until he could not go any longer.”

Catholics are called to live their gifts while being faithful until they could not go on, said Fr Mendes.

Fr Emmanuel Pierre read a letter from Archbishop Jason Gordon who was unable to attend the Mass. He conveyed his prayers and consolation.

Fr de la Bastide was ordained January 15, 1989, by Archbishop Anthony Pantin CSSp and served in the Archdiocese from 1995–2015. Declining health caused him to withdraw from active parish ministry. He served in parishes including Mon Repos, Penal, La Romaine, Arouca, St Ann’s and Sangre Grande.

Archbishop Gordon said Fr de la Bastide’s love for communications media was evident by his presence at many archdiocesan cathedral events including his own installation as Archbishop of Port of Spain in December 2017.

He integrated this skill into his priestly service and communicated the Church’s teaching well in his pastoral ministry. Archbishop Gordon expressed gratefulness to Fr de la Bastide’s faithful service to the Archdiocese.

“I know for a fact many appreciated and were moved by his teaching style in the delivery of his homilies, for his knowledge and love of the scriptures was clearly communicated,” the Archbishop stated.

He extended God’s strength, comfort, and peace to the de la Bastide family, friends and the faithful.

Attending the Mass were members of the Spiritan community including Fr Carlyle Guiseppi CSSp who was ordained with Fr de la Bastide in 1989, Bishop Gerard County CSSp of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP and diocesan clergy. Students from St Mary’s College and Fatima College were present.

By Lara Pickford-Gordon