Sunday, August 20, 2023

(284) Oscar Bastiani: A Faithful Witness and Servant Into His Old Age


This article is based upon the eulogy I gave at the funeral of Oscar Bastiani Jr. June 16, 2023.

Oscar Bastiani Jr. (1936-2023), a faithful member of our parish and the Knights of Columbus helped out wherever he could in his twilight years.  A son of Oscar Bastiani Sr., owner of the Italian Restaurant on Court and 3rd St.,  Oscar made an exquisite sauce for the annual Spaghetti Dinner fund raiser for the parish.  When age slowed him down, he got out of the kitchen and sold raffle tickets as he greeted the people entering the Parish Hall for the August Spaghetti Dinner for the Feast of St. Louis, the patron of the parish and Lenten Fish Fries in late winter and Spring.  Although an American first, he transmitted an intense pride of his rich Italian heritage to his extended family.

     Oscar’s wishes were for a small funeral with no visiting hours.  Apparently, he felt that the richness of the Mass would suffice.  Please keep him in your prayers.  Yet we should celebrate his life in a small way.

   We'll miss Oscar.  He was so faithful to the Church, an example to us all.  Somehow he would drive by himself to the Saturday vigil Mass in his little car and with the aid of a walker climb the ramp and sit in the back of the church.  A Eucharistic minister would bring Holy Communion to him in his pew.  Nothing could keep that guy down.  This heroic faithfulness puts to shame the young men who miss Mass on Sunday because they're sleeping off a hangover from the night before. 

     Although an experienced cook of Italian cuisine, he could no longer be active in the kitchen during our Spaghetti Dinner Fund Raiser in August for the Feast of St. Louis and the Lenten fish fries, but he was there as a greeter in collecting money and sold raffle tickets to support our church.

    He could not participate in our Knights of Columbus work sessions, but he was there to help with the annual fund raising raffles.  He even conducted a survey of our knights.  Furthermore, he would call every knight, reminding them of our next meeting.  There were a time or two he would have to put up with a gruff, "Don't bother me".

In this photo Oscar is with his son, Mike and Brittany Spaniel bird dog, Zeke.  After graduating from St. Vincent Prep School in Latrobe, PA and Ohio University, he was a supervisor at the Goodyear chemical plant across the river before starting up his own construction business.

      Oscar suffered a lot with grace, with faith, and with courage.  After undergoing surgery on his neck, he was confined to his home for a few months and we brought Holy Communion to him every Sunday.  We would ask him to unite his cross with the Lord’s cross and offer it all up as a dynamic prayer for the Church, his loved ones, and for our country.  God knows how much our country needs prayer.  Offering up one’s sufferings is a most effective prayer.  It gives meaning to suffering and makes it productive.  

       St. Mother Teresa relied on such redemptive suffering for the astounding success of her order, matching a sick invalid person (other person) with each one of her active nuns all over the world to offer up his/her sufferings for the work of each nun.   

     In that way Oscar was as effective for the Church or more so in his old age than when he was a vigorous young man.  In his day; he was an avid hunter and fisherman.

Oscar Bastiani enjoyed hunting and fishing in his spare time.  The photo on the right shows a young Oscar after a hunt with the wild turkey he bagged.   

   We love you, Oscar and we’ll miss you.  Thank you for all that you have done for us.  Good-bye until we’re all together again in eternity for a glorious reunion.  Let’s make sure that we all get there.

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