By Drs. David and Mary Ford
It was very moving for us to experience the vast outpouring of love and condolences at Fr. Matthew Baker's (STS 2008) funeral at the Church of the Annunciation (GOA) in Cranston, Rhode Island, on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Officiating were two hierarchs - Metr. Methodios and Bp. Andonios - and about 30 priests, with at least 20 other priests in attendance, and many hundreds of people there - so many that police help was required for parking and for the very long funeral procession on the expressways from Cranston to Providence. One great highlight was hearing the very personal letter written by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Presvytera Katie and the children. It was a powerful experience, mourning the loss to the whole Church of one who many had hoped would become a leading theologian, but also, perhaps more importantly, one whom many had experienced as a loving friend and highly respected mentor. There were people there from all over the country, from many jurisdictions and all walks of life - both Orthodox and non-Orthodox - coming to pay their respects to a man who had touched their lives in significant ways.
It was also very meaningful and gratifying for us to see so many of our former students (and some of their families) there to honor and pay their last respects to their brother in Christ who had entered Christ's Holy Priesthood only 14 months before. The alumni present included our current faculty member and Choir Director Benedict Sheehan (STOTS 2011) and his family; Fr. Seraphim Majmudar (STOTS 2008) from Tacoma, Washington; Paul Jungwirth, from Portland, Oregon; Fr. Joseph Lucas (STOTS 2010) from Miami, Florida; Fr. Matthew Brown (STOTS 2013) from Saddle Brook, New Jersey; Fr. Patrick Burns (STOTS 2009), from Ansonia, Connecticut; Fr. Nicholas Dellermann (STOTS 2008), from Norwich, Connecticut; Fr. Nicholai Meyers (STOTS 2009), from Utica, New York; Fr. Andrew Damick (STOTS 2007), from Emmaus, Pennsylvania; Fr. Adam Sexton (STOTS 2008), from Ashland, Virginia; Fr. Philip Kontos (STOTS 2008), from Jupiter, Florida; Fr. Stephen Vernak (STOTS 2007) from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Fr. Mark Lichtenstein (STOTS 2010) from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania; as well as Jerry Tarris, the Bakers' former "landlord" at the Tarris Estates in Simpson.
For a photo from the funeral, and a short description, please go here.
May we all be stirred with great resolve by the inspiring example of this brilliant scholar, challenging teacher, bold preacher, dynamic priest, and beloved friend and mentor to many. We are truly honored to have him as one of our St. Tikhon's graduates.