1999 - Present
We are a community of approximately 180 families from over 20 countries. Our community consists of predominantly younger families, though all ages are represented. We have a wide variety of spiritual and social programs for children, youth, and adults. Please see the "Social and Adult Programs and Youth Programs" pages of our site for more details. The purpose of our community is to maintain and develop spiritual life among English-speaking Roman Catholics and to celebrate mass together in the English language. In addition, the community strives to provide the opportunity for people to gather together, pray, celebrate, and share in the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church in the English language. Even though the community has increased in numbers over the years, it remains a close family of faith, welcoming new members to join in celebrating the Word of God together.
As time passed, the members of the community took on more and more responsibilities. On 2 May 1995, a group of people met with Father Russi and formed the community's first church council. The council was created to formalize the existence of the English-Speaking Catholic Community in the Basel diocese. The council also served to give structure and guidance to the spiritual, liturgical, and social activities of the community. Its first request was that the mass in English be celebrated every Sunday (not just twice a month). Father Kilian Karrer, upon finishing his studies in Rome and his return to Mariastein Abbey, was asked to support Father Russi in presiding over the masses beginning in Fall 1995. On 9 April 1996, the church council began using the name "The English-Speaking Roman Catholic Community of Basel" for bank records. The community at its first Annual General Meeting on 27 April 1997 officially approved the name along with the Statues & Bylaws. Having mass in English every Sunday was a great milestone for the community. Attendance at mass grew very rapidly and eventually the community outgrew the chapel at the Katholische Studentenhaus. In early 1996, the community sought larger facilities and was generously welcomed by the Bruder Klaus parish in Bruderholz. In May 1996, the mass moved to the chapel in the Bruder Klaus Kirche and, in January 1997, the mass was moved upstairs to the main sanctuary to accommodate the growing number of people attending mass.
In February 1989, Father Armin Russi, a Benedictine Monk from Mariastein Abbey, was given special permission by the Abbot to serve the English-speaking community of the Basel region. He replaced Father Lukac and began by saying mass once a month and continued to teach the children's religious education program. In the beginning, attendance at mass was very small (sometimes only one family!). When Father Russi was asked to celebrate mass in English twice a month, he handed over the responsibility of the children's classes to volunteers. In 1993 a choir was formed and lay ministers were organized to participate in the mass. There was also the opportunity to get involved with Adult Faith Development, Children's Religious Education classes, Youth Group, and coffee get-togethers after mass. Attendance at mass began to grow.
In 1987, Father Lukac, a Dominican priest from a parish in Reinach, replaced Father Bitzi. Father Lukac said mass twice monthly, but was unable to take on the additional responsibility of teaching the children's religious education classes. Father Armin Russi was therefore asked to help with the children in 1988.
When Father Zagst left to work as a missionary in Ecuador in 1979, Father Bitzi was asked to take on the responsibility for celebrating mass in English once a month. He also began a bible study for adults and First Holy Communion classes for children.
The English-Speaking Roman Catholic Community of Basel had its start in the 1970s when Father Zagst began celebrating mass in English. Mass was held in the chapel of the Katholische Studentenhaus (Catholic Student Dormitory on the University of Basel campus) located in the center of Basel. The small English-speaking community was mostly made up of expatriates in the Basel region.