Establishing life's balance in the diaconate

Tuesday, November 05, 2019 - Updated: 1:08 pm

By MATTHEW PEASLEE Associate Editor

As a husband, father, grandfather, postal employee and soccer coach, Deacon Joe Basko leads a busy family life. As a deacon, his life becomes a model example of faithful ministry.

“You have to really prioritize and make sure you keep things in their proper perspective,” Deacon Basko said. “There has to be a sensitivity to the balance not allowing one thing to override the other.”

Deacon Basko serves in the Beaver County grouping that includes St. Frances Cabrini in Center Township, St. John the Baptist in Monaca, Our Lady of Fatima in Hopewell Township and St. Titus in Aliquippa. He grew up in the area and married his wife, Joanne, at St. Alphonsus in Wexford.

“My wife helps a lot with keeping perspective, letting me look at myself from a distance,” Deacon Basko said. “You have to reach out. I talk to the parish staff and clergy team to help me in my life finding that balance.”

In turn, that’s also what he does for the parish community. Deacon Basko, and all deacons, can be seen by their parishioners as a real-life, down-to-earth version of a faith-filled worker.

“Deacons have an important role because we are living in the world,” he said. “Our parishioners and members of the community look at us and relate with us to say ‘he has a job, he has a family, he lives down the street, how does he deal with things related to faith?’

“I think we have a very important role in being an example of how to live the faith in the real world. I just feel absolutely called that I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s kind of bizarre that what I think I do well is what I feel is needed to be in the diaconate. I feel very full when I think about that.”

Deacon Basko credits the close relationship with his mother, who attended the former Elizabeth Seton School, for leading the way in his faith formation. He delved even deeper into Catholicism in the early years of his marriage and with a move to Philadelphia in 1998. The Basko family were members of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Douglassville, Pennsylvania, and become quite involved with many volunteer opportunities.

Joe became good friends with the two deacons assigned to that parish and was fascinated with their work and ministry. The family moved back to western Pennsylvania in 2002 and settled into St. Frances Cabrini Parish, continuing their volunteer efforts. The late Father Joseph Kleppner, who passed away earlier this year, asked Joe if he had ever thought about becoming a deacon.

“That’s when I knew that God was calling me,” Deacon Basko said. “It was always in the back of my mind, especially from my time with my deacon friends in the Philly area.”

He was ordained in June 2011 and began with one of his favorite aspects of the diaconate, the institutional ministry. Twice a week Deacon Basko visits the Beaver County Jail to talk with the inmates on a variety of topics. He calls it “church in its purest form.”

“Sitting around in a Bible study and talking about the faith, trying to figure this all out together,” Deacon Basko said. “That basic conversation on what to do from here. It’s amazing to see them relate to Scripture.”

Deacon Basko’s children range in age from 6 to 27. They are Chris, Rachel, Rebecca, Matthew, Joshua and Maria. His grandchildren, of Chris and wife, Kayla, are Pete and Thea. 

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