Basil Harkins, OFM
1883 – 1981
Fr. Basil Harkins, OFM, was born on Nov. 2, 1883 in Boston. He entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1907, and was received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1913. He professed temporary vows one year later and made his solemn profession in 1917. Fr. Basil was ordained in 1920 at St. Bonaventure Parish, Paterson.
His first assignment was as assistant pastor and assistant novice master at St. Bonaventure Friary, where he served for six months, followed by six months serving at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary. The following year, Fr. Basil traveled to New Jersey, where he was in charge of the parishes in Wanaque and Greenwood Lake.
In 1922, he was assigned as pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish, Allegany, N.Y. That same year, a mission territory in China was entrusted to the American Franciscans. Fr. Basil volunteered for the China Mission, and from 1923 to 1930, he served as a missionary in the vicariate of Wuchang in China.
He returned to the United States, where he served at a parish in Winsted, Conn., and then for five years as pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Butler, N.J. For 15 years, he served as pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson. In 1952, he was assigned to a parish in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he endeared himself to clergy and laypeople alike. After celebrating his golden jubilee of ordination, he retired to the Provincial infirmary at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany.
From 1970 until his death, Fr. Basil entertained the friars and staff with his wit, patience, and continued interest in everything happening around him. He was a simple, humble, holy friar whose life became a legend in Holy Name Province. Kindness and an unassuming sincerity marked his entire Franciscan life.
He died on Oct. 12, 1981. Fr. Basil was almost 98 years old, a professed friar for 67 years and a priest for 61 years.