Catholic parishioners in Crewkerne, Chard and Ilminster are mourning the loss of Father Basil Postlethwaite, who died suddenly while leading a 10 day Camino retreat at Valenca do Minho in Portugal. Father Basil came to the parish of English Martyrs St Joseph and St Peter in Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne in 2013. He was also a director at Chard Independent School. The news of his sudden death from natural causes at the age of 66 years, was announced during Sunday masses in the three towns where he was well liked and known for his relaxed and amusing character in addition to his dedication to the church.
Parishioners who accompanied Father Basil on the retreat in Portugal said he was feeling tired and went to his room to rest. When he failed to appear to concelebrate mass, a couple of the group went to look for him and found him unresponsive. Paramedics were called but were sadly unable to revive him. In his memory, the group carried on the walk and carried his stole, sandals, a rosary and his pilgrim passport along with them.
A Requiem Mass for Father Basil was held at the catholic church in Chard on Monday, led by Bishop Declan Lang of the Clifton Diocese. Hundreds of parishioners from the three south Somerset towns attended with video links of the service extended to the church hall and a marquee in the car park. Father Basil Postlethwaite who was ordained as a priest at St Ninians in Edinburgh in December 1983, spent 11 years in El Salvador as the parish priest at Dulce Nombre de Maria in Chalatanengo. He returned to the UK in 2000. In 2005 he became chaplain at St Marys in Shaftesbury and then at St Edwards School in Cheltenham until 2013, when he came to south Somerset.
Following the Requiem Mass on Monday, Father Basil was taken to his home town of Warrington in Cheshire by his family, for a private burial, with his parents. Parishioners in Crewkerne, Chard and Ilminster together with those from the surrounding villages, are still coming to terms with the sad news but have gained some comfort in the knowledge that his passing was very sudden and that he wouldn’t have suffered.