Thaddeus "Ted" Basara, 75, teacher

Thaddeus Basara
Thaddeus Basara
Posted: February 14, 2014

Thaddeus Basara, 75, of Secane, a retired teacher at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne who once served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, died at home Saturday, Feb. 8, of peritoneal cancer, a rare disease that affects the abdominal tissue lining.

Mr. Basara, known as Ted, was so inspired by the religious devotion of his family and the priests and nuns he grew up with that he decided to become a priest. He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood at 16, leaving Roman Catholic High School before earning his diploma. He was ordained in 1964.

Fluent in Polish, Mr. Basara served at ethnic churches, including the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown; St. Hedwig in Chester; and St. Josaphat in Manayunk, where he had grown up.

But after six years, and in the throes of the tumultuous 1960s, Mr. Basara began to have doubts. He felt uncomfortable giving advice to parishioners on topics including abortion and birth control.

"He told them what he knew and what he thought was right," said Mr. Basara's wife, Judy Belcak Basara. "But the men and women didn't always want those answers, and he felt inadequate to tell them how to run their lives."

So instead, Mr. Basara, who had always wanted to be a teacher, plunged into a career in education. He met his future wife in class. The couple attended the same evening course at St. Joseph's University. They married in 1982.

Mr. Basara taught science, oceanography, and astronomy at the former Darby-Colwyn High School and later at Penn Wood. He also taught at colleges, including Manor and Gwynedd-Mercy.

He traveled extensively with his wife and visited all the continents. He climbed the pyramids and Mount Fuji, and reached the base camp of Mount Everest. He brought his experiences home to his students and incorporated them into his classes.

Mr. Basara earned a master's degree in education from Villanova University and was awarded an honorary diploma from Roman Catholic High School.

He retired in 1998 but continued working as a freelance photographer for the Catholic Standard and Times.

Mr. Basara served as a cantor and lector at St. Eugene Church in Primos. In 1989, he and his wife visited the Vatican with their friend Archbishop Francis Schulte. The group had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. Mr. Basara spoke to the pope in Polish, the pontiff's native language.

Mr. Basara called it the most meaningful moment of his life. He was often teased about that because he acknowledged it even topped marrying his wife. But Judy Basara said she understood.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Basara is survived by uncles, aunts, cousins, and five godchildren.

A viewing will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at St. Eugene Roman Catholic Church, 200 S. Oak Ave., Primos. Mass follows at the church. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Marple Township.

Memorial donations may be sent to St. Charles Seminary, 100 E. Wynnewood Rd., Wynnewood, Pa. 19096, with a note specifying that the donation is to be used only for the education of present and future seminarians.


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