2019 – Today
We are an English-Speaking Catholic community in Basel, Switzerland, 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 click on the Our Community page to see how you can get involved. Our purpose is to maintain and develop our Catholic Faith as well as to share in the Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church through a weekly Mass in English. Even though the community has increased in numbers over the years, it remains a close family of faith; always welcoming new members to join in celebrating the Word of God together.
We are pleased to announce that Father Sibi was made the permanent chaplain of our community, by Bishop Felix Gmür in March, 2019. As Father Armin took on more responsibilities in Mariastein, our community was in need of a new priest.
Fr. Sibi Choothamparambil is from the archdiocese of Verapoly, Kerala, India. He was ordained in 2016 and has lived in Basel since September 2018, in the Church of St. Anton, Kannenfeldstrasse. Father Sibi is currently pursuing his Masters at the University of Fribourg. He is very excited for the opportunity to accompany our community spiritually..
1999 – 2019
During this time, Fathers Kilian and Armin who lived in a Benedictine monastery at Mariastein, about 15 kilometers from Basel, celebrated Mass with us in Bruder Klaus Kirche.
Father Kilian’s roots are in Basel. At Mariastein, he took care of the sacristy, the library, the computers and the monastery’s homepage, as well as served as assistant guest master and religious education instructor in the neighboring village. His hobbies are music and reading. During his studies in Rome, Father Kilian had many opportunities to practice his English with American, English, Irish and Indian colleagues.
Father Armin is guest master, organist, and conductor of the monks choir at the Benedictine monastery in Mariastein. He also taught Gregorian chant at the music school, University of Berne. Father Armin is originally from Amsteg, in the Swiss Canton of Uri, a small village 14 km from the southern end of Lake Luzern, and not far from the Gotthard mountains. In 1989, he became involved as a RE teacher at the International School of Basel, and a few months later became the priest for the English-Speaking Catholic Community of Basel. Father Armin, who learned his English at school for 5 years, enjoys riding railways, music and reading (especially thriller and criminal stories from Mary Higgins Clark and other writers).
As time passed, the members of the community took on more and more responsibilities. On the 2nd of May 1995, a group of people met with Father Armin 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 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 Armin in presiding over the Masses beginning in the Fall of 1995. On the 9th of 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 the 27th of 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.
In February 1989, Father Armin, 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 Armin was asked to celebrate Mass in English twice a month, he handed over the responsibility of the children’s religious education 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.