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Father Mike is an actor. Always has been, always will be. He’s also a missionary with a vast array of experiences in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Turn your dial up and learn about the versatile and spiritually gifted Father Michael Bassano, M.M., who currently works with refugees in a UN-run camp in South Sudan. Follow his exciting and remarkable journey from Chile to Thailand to Tanzania and beyond as a Maryknoll missioner of unshakable faith and calling.
In this deeply moving podcast, the ebullient priest gives his testimony as to how God tugs on us until we answer; how He prepares us for our real calling through everything we do beforehand, and how “…all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
From his humble days in the Diocese of Syracuse, the small town pastor felt a nudge—no, a shove—to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). But just how would that happen in the context of his cozy parish?
So, in 1987, he decide to join the ranks of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers—the Catholic Foreign Mission Society—with the understanding that he would return to his duties Stateside after five years.
Well, God had other plans. Moved by the sacrifices of the Church martyrs of El Salvador, he mobilized himself for the poor and voiceless, and remains a Maryknoll missioner to this day.
But, let’s go back to “Act One, Scene One” of this real-life play for a moment.
Some actors are shy in real life; others have a boldness that crosses over from the stage to the street. Father Mike possesses that boldness. His journey with Maryknoll started out with an unannounced visit to the Maryknoll campus, when he asked to see “a priest” and stated his case for apprenticeship. After securing his bishop’s permission, he was assigned as an associate to Chile.
Fear ran through Father Mike’s veins as he disembarked the plane, entering into the dangerous territory of the Pinochet regime. But he wasn’t as afraid for his own safety as much as he was of his perceived inadequacy for the calling that burned within him. “If you’re working with the poor, you must be communist!” he says of the military junta’s perception of him.
During his reign as president and then Supreme Head of the nation, Augusto Pinochet had incarcerated 80,000, tortured tens of thousands and executed 3,095 souls.
Even when teargassed, arrested, and finding himself in the midst of a post-coup volatility that could have resulted in his death, Father Mike sang songs of justice for those who vanished mysteriously, never to return to their families.
He took to the streets, a wandering minstrel of sorts, with guitar, cross and basket in hand to perform the Gospel of Saint Matthew for anyone who would listen. Dramatizing reality was a means of survival for many Chilean youth; it brought healing from growing up in alcoholic homes, witnessing neighbors being tortured and feeling the uncertainly of their future. The tenacity of the human spirit in these “poblanos” astounded the early missioner.
“It’s like God had been preparing me for all the theater I did before, to do something as a missioner that would really impact the hearts of people,” said Father Mike.He continues to take his show on the road in other parts of the world where Maryknoll missioners serve.
You won’t find stories like Father Mike’s in any history book or documentary. Listen and learn—as they say—to what a real-life missioner with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers has to share, because we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface here.