Thank you, Jesper. This is perfectly logical, and I will keep it in mind for future servlet design/development.
Since I sent the question, I redesigned the servlet. The base servlet contains an init(ServletConfig config) method which is used to access a properties file using getResourceAsStream(...). The properties it gets are stored in static variables, and can be accessed by any subclasses. This base servlet will be initialized first by using load-on-startup in the web.xml file. The base servlet also contains a protected method that can be called by its subclasses. Any subclasses can implement the init() method, and doGet. The protected base class method can be accessed by the subclasses as need be.