Fr. Bascarán. Wearing the shoes of the mission

He is known by everyone for his long hair and sandals as he walks the streets of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

Wearing the ‘shoes of the mission’ for him meant being on the side of the poor and humble people. It meant keeping one’s feet firmly on the ground, in the dust of the roads that brings home the situation of the people. As he walks, he sees the small boys playing football. They see him and kick the ball to him. He controls it perfectly and skilfully passes it back. The sound of music is coming from one of the houses. He knows that tune; he has played it often.  

His two great interests: football and music. As a young man, Spanish Father Carlos Bascarán Collantes was a professional footballer and fascinated spectators with his skills. Some believed he would have a wonderful future playing for one of the teams in the La Liga Espanola. His musical talents were also well known, and his guitar was always by his side. His presence was always a celebration.

Cheerful and enthusiastic, he made friends easily, especially with the youth and especially through his music. He would say to the young people: “You must always be in harmony and sing the right notes to be together without being afraid of making mistakes. Music brings us together and makes us feel more like children of God and members of our communities. Music always carries with it love and liberation”. 

For six years, he was provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Brazil. His colleagues remember him well: “Those were complicated and difficult times for him. His critical attitude towards the civil and religious authorities led to clashes but he was always spontaneous and sincere”.  

A man of great ideas, both during and after his mandate he gave new vigour to the Province both in the field of formation and missionary animation, while aware of the limits. He would say: “The mission is like a performance of a symphony. The music is perfectly written but the musicians are limited and often out of tune. However, this does not mean we can’t try to play perfect music”. 

Brazil had been struck by the Coronavirus for several months, reaping thousands of victims and infections. During all that time, Fr. Carlos refused to stay indoors but went to visit the communities, offering advice and support.

 It was important that people should see their priest among them in those difficult times. For some days he had not felt well and was taken to João Pessoa Hospital suffering from the virus. He died late in the afternoon of Tuesday 22 September 2020. He was 77 years of age and had spent forty of them walking the side-streets of Brazil in his dusty missionary sandals.