World premiere of Baraga documentary set for Jan. 19

A Celebration of life and commemoration of 150th anniversary of death of Bishop Fredric Baraga set for Jan. 19-20.

MARQUETTE — The world premiere of an installment of EWTN’s “They Might Be Saints: Bishop Frederic Baraga” on the life of the “Snowshoe Priest” in the Upper Peninsula, will be Friday, Jan. 19, at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette.

The 30-minute program, filmed on location in the U.P., will be among the highlights of a two-day celebration of the life and commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Venerable Baraga, who is under consideration by the Vatican for sainthood.

Len McKeen, executive director of the Baraga Association, said she is “thrilled that the program, to be aired on the Eternal Word Television Network, will bring national, and even international attention to the first bishop of the Upper Peninsula Catholic diocese.”

Anyone familiar with the U.P. is familiar with the name Baraga. Born in a castle in Slovenia in 1797, Frederic Baraga came to the United States in 1830 as a missionary, eventually becoming known as the “Snowshoe Priest” for his winter travels by foot across the Upper Great Lakes wilderness.

Already trained as a lawyer in Austria and studied in six languages, his love for the native people encouraged the young priest to pen the “Grammar of the Ojibway (Chippewa) Language.” This became the foundation of Indian literature and his monumental work: “A Dictionary of the Ojibway Language,” which is still in use today. He died Jan. 19, 1868, in his home in Marquette, which is being restored by the Baraga Association.

The celebration will begin with a Solemn Mass for the Dead at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19. After that will be a meal, the world premiere and then Michael O’Neill, “The Miracle Hunter,” will give a presentation.

Highlights of the events Saturday, Jan. 20, include a presentation at St. Peter Cathedral by Curtis Chambers, who has snowshoed more than 1,000 miles in Bishop Baraga’s footsteps. He then will lead a snowshoe walk at Holy Cross Cemetery in Marquette. A presentation by Father Corey Litzner on Bishop Baraga’s first pastoral letter will take place in the afternoon. Family activities will be offered throughout the day. The event will conclude with 4 p.m. Mass at St. Peter Cathedral and a ticketed dinner.

The event also will launch a self-guided pilgrimage throughout the areas of Bishop Baraga’s ministry that lead to St. Peter Cathedral. Venerable Baraga’s remains are in a chapel dedicated to him at the cathedral. The pilgrimage is based loosely on the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, that leads to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

“Bishop Baraga’s zeal to bring people to Jesus led to a ministry that had great impact across the Upper Great Lakes,” McKeen said. “This pilgrimage will have points in 26 dioceses that lead through Baraga’s mission field to his tomb, but ultimately to Jesus in His Church.”

Preregistration is required for meals and activities. For full details, go to the Bishop Baraga Association website at www.bishopbaraga.org.

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