Father Francis Jobe Abbass
Father Francis Jobe Abbass, son of the late Jobe Tanus Abbass and Lily (Khattar) Abbass of Sydney, Nova Scotia passed away on January 24, 2019, at Saint Mary’s Parish, East Bay, Nova Scotia where he has served as Parish Priest since 1990. Born on February 3, 1931, Father Frank was educated in Sydney, attending Saint Joseph School and Sydney Academy. After graduating from St. Francis Xavier in 1951 he attended Holy Heart Seminary in Halifax and was ordained to the priesthood in 1955. From Sydney Academy; to St. F.X. University: to Holy Heart Seminary in Halifax: to studying and receiving an M.A. in religious Education from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; to studying at Lumen Vitae in Brussels; to a sabbatical tour that took him to London, Switzerland, Nairobi, and Beirut Lebanon; to attending as Canada’s English-speaking Representative at UNDA, the world conference of Catholic communicators in Quito, Ecuador, Father Frank was well prepared for his work in education and pastoral work.
Fr. Frank started as a Parish Priest at St. Pius X in Sydney Mines, where he organized the youth, directed a parish musical “The Dixie Minstrels” and helped build the St. Pius Recreational Park, which was opened by the most famous hockey player of the time, Rocket Richard. He served as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Antigonish, where he worked with 1100 teachers to renew Religious Education across the Diocese, establishing and conducting programs and seminars in Religious Education throughout the Maritimes. In 1963 Father Frank initiated and produced the televised Mass for Shut-ins, the longest-running, religious TV program in Canada. He acted as Director of pastoral planning the Papal Visit to Canada in 1984 and served as Vocational Director for the Diocese of Antigonish. In 1990 he became Pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in East Bay, a role he lovingly carried out for over 30 years until his death. During his busy priesthood, Father Frank found time to be President of the Council of Association for the Mentally Challenged, to teach World Religions at the College of Cape Breton, to play a role in having the Canadian Catechism published; to put on teach-ins on religious education, to publish a newsletter ”Catechesis”, to organize a radio program “Catholic Accent”, bringing news to 14,000 listeners; to serve as an advisor to Radio-Canada (French CBC) regarding religious broadcasting and to serve as the Chairman of the Children’s Broadcast Institute. Father Abbass has been a priest for 63 years, something to be celebrated. There has been a quality of “celebration” in all that Father Frank has done throughout his priesthood. Father Frank didn’t just administer the sacraments – he celebrated them with the people and made them more meaningful and spiritual for his particular participation. In gratitude, we celebrate the completion of this long and productive life.
Besides his parents, Father Frank was predeceased by his brothers Joseph, Ferris, George, and John and his sister Philomena Hanna. He is survived by brothers, Tony, Moncton, and Cyril, Toronto, and by his sisters Annie Hashem, Katherine Huskey, Sydney, Mary MacDonald, Victoria, BC, and Sister Simone Abbass, Sydney. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews for whom he was Uncle Father Frank. Also left to mourn are the many cousins and relatives of the Lebanese community of Cape Breton. Special gratitude is offered by the family to the people of St. Mary’s Parish who collaborated with and supported Father Frank throughout his years among them. He prided himself on being the oldest parish priest active in the diocese, a tribute to their loyalty to the parish community and its pastor.
Visitation will take place on Sunday afternoon, January 27, 2019, from 1 – 4 pm at T.W. Curry Parkview Chapel, Sydney with a Vigil Service at St. Mary’s Church East Bay at 7:00 pm. The funeral mass will be celebrated by Bishop Brian Dunn at 2:00 pm on Monday, January 28 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Sydney River with a reception to follow. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery at a later date.