"Basement Priest" by Missionary Fr. John Boos Provides a Moral Compass for Today's World - Book Review

Father John Boos was born in the West Indies in 1937 and he writes a fascinating account of his impressions of the world, history and the divine plan. His book, entitled "Basement Priest" offers just over 200 pages of wisdom from a cleric with an extensive world view.

Fr. Boos studied law for several years. He then became a missionary in Africa and other countries for 50 years. Fr. Boos entered the priesthood in his thirties. During his years of retirement he has been living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and reflected on the events of his vast life. It is this broad experience and scholasticism that he incorporates in the 20 chapters of his book. 

Fr. Boos' Book is available for Purchase here:


Fr. Boos introduces the book with these words:

    The last few years in my basement flat, apart from leaving it to help out in the parishes of Scarborough in Toronto and those of Durham of Ontario  Province, have helped me to reflect on many issues, most of them concerning Faith, its acceptance or rejection by today's secular culture, and how its very common misrepresentations could be corrected and  clarified. I had to begin by understanding myself.

In his work, Fr. Boos offers a historical timeline and shows how God was present throughout history. He provides scriptural passages that reveal God’s direction throughout the world’s major events. 

Throughout the book faith, reason and philosophical approaches help to address societal, religious and cultural dilemmas. The book is a work that is both catechetical and apologetic. He examines events such as, World War l (1914-1918) which saw his family involved, and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) which welcomed him into the world. He mentions living through World War ll (1939-1945), the Cold War (1945-1989), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnamese War (1956-1975), the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the moon landings (1969 et seq), the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), the Sexual Revolution (1965-1977). Having lived through 80 years of the rise and fall of major world leaders and dictators, Fr. Boos has insights that only one who experienced these times can provide. 

He outlines prominent faith movements and then provides a faith response using scripture, church teachings and philosophy. In the same way he describes major historical events such as wars, insurrections, reformations and cultural revolutions. For each of these he shows the reality of God’s presence and uses scripture together with the teachings of the church to answer such occurrences. 

Living as a missionary among the poor in Africa, Fr. Boos has a deep understanding of tragedy in all its forms. He is able to show God’s presence amidst great turmoil. By offering profound scriptural and magisterial insights Fr. Boos answers the questions that many have regarding the sufferings of our world. He writes, "this 21st century didn't happen by itself; it has been formed by the preceding centuries, their histories, philosophies, wars, and their immense cultural changes. How will it affect the succeeding ones?" Then he offers a guide through these events to the light of God as revealed throughout history to mankind. 

Fr. Boos covers basic principles and truths of the faith in a catechetical manner. He unveils relevant scriptural passages showing a divine answer to modern and past problems. As a true scripture scholar, Fr. Boos, enlightens the reader with a deeper understanding of how the divine plan is at work in our lives.

As an apologist, Fr. Boos is able to defend the critiques of various groups against the Church’s teachings. He defines the stance and the mindset of particular denominations and shows why they are at times wrong in their judgements of the Church. 

The book’s extensive use of scripture in answer to life’s major questions and historical events is evidence of God’s ever present guidance. Fr. Boos connects the reader to the revealed Word of God in a manner that is clear and consoling. He also notes the importance of the Mass, prayer and Church teaching as the essential elements for Catholic spiritual survival. 

It is through this work that Fr. Boos provides a moral compass when journeying through this vale of tears. Our ultimate home and goal for our lives is heaven. He acknowledges this fact and provides the reader with the means to achieve it. He shows that the answer to life’s problems is the full and active participation in the life of the Church. Fr. Boos concludes that we must be faithful to Christ, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.

This book has a wide ranging audience. It can appeal to the simple lay person, an educated scholar, a cleric, religious or simply a housewife. With its apologetic and historical foundations, the book can also be read by non-Catholics. In short, Fr. John Boos has written a masterful piece with broad appeal and deep spiritual and intellectual importance.

Book Review by Miriam Westen, M.Ed., MA. Th., M.T.S.