15 Nov Lenora R. McKeen Speaks on Marquette’s First Bishop, Bishop Baraga and the Canonization Process
Marquette, MI – November 15, 2017 – While traveling around Marquette and surrounding areas in the Upper Peninsula, you may have noticed many things named Baraga: Baraga Street in Marquette, the town of Baraga, Baraga County, Baraga State Park, the list goes on and on! But have you ever wondered “Why?” or “Where the name came from?”
Executive Director of the Bishop Baraga Association, Lenora R. McKeen spoke to the Marquette West Rotary today to talk about one of the most important figure heads that helped shape the town of Marquette and many other areas into what it is today. Dedications to Bishop Frederic Baraga are common throughout the Upper Peninsula, but can be found in Lower Michigan and Wisconsin too!
McKeen started with some facts to introduce Rotarians to this figure. Irenaeus Frederic Baraga was born June 29th, 1797. He became the first Bishop in Marquette and to this day remains in town, his body resting in St. Peter Cathedral. Passing in 1868, January 2018 marks the 150th Anniversary of his death. He was a remarkable man fluent in six languages. He taught people to value each other and was well traveled coming to America from what is now present day Slovenia in 1830. Over a large area like the Upper Peninsula, Baraga did a lot of snow shoeing, once walking 57 miles one way to baptize a dying girl, 114 miles round trip.
McKeen and the Bishop Baraga Association are working to canonize Bishop Baraga. In order to complete the process a miracle must be attributed to the candidate’s name. A very recent case has refueled attempts to have Baraga canonized. A woman carrying her 8th child was having difficulties with the pregnancy. Challenges throughout the term and delivery resulted in optic nerve damage. Recently a priest visited the now eight-month-old boy giving him a relic. The priest then prayed for the baby asking Bishop Baraga to intercede on behalf the boy and work a spiritual miracle through God. That night they believe a miracle was performed. The therapist saw great improvement in the child overnight claiming he was completely healed and canceled the upcoming eye surgery! MRIs appeared completely normal and organization members hope to dedicate this miracle in the name of Bishop Baraga to proceed with the canonization.
Once canonized, people from all around the world will make the pilgrimage to Marquette. Tourism in Marquette, specifically to the museum. A large celebration is scheduled on January 19th, 2018 for the 150th anniversary of his death. For more details on the event, contact Lenora McKeen at (906) 227-9117.
You can see the house where Bishop Baraga lived on Rock Street in Marquette. The house will become the Baraga Education Center. A number of Native American tools were displayed throughout the house since he was so focused on Natives. Soon they will also be displaying many letters from Bishop Baraga and looking to develop the adjacent property into a prayer garden.