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Bishop Baraga restored home open

As many of you are aware, Bishop Frederic Baraga was the first bishop of the Catholic diocese located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The diocese originated in Sault Ste. Marie in 1853, and then was moved to Marquette in 1866.The Marquette house where Bishop Baraga lived, and ultimately passed away in 1868, has recently been restored and now is the home of the Bishop Baraga Education Center. We owe so much to the many people who generously contributed to fund the restoration of the Baraga house, and it is appropriately recognized as a true Upper Peninsula historic site.

Restoration work is continuing on the grounds upon which the Baraga house is located. This historic home is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and may also be opened week-ends and evenings by appointment. The Baraga house is located in Marquette at 615 South Fourth St. Now that the Baraga house has been restored, his historic home site will now be referred to as the Baraga Education Center.

Here is some brief history regarding Bishop Baraga. Irenaeus Frederic Baraga was born to nobility in a castle in Slovenia on June 29, 1797. He served in his native Slovenia as a priest for seven years before coming to the United States. Father Baraga arrived in the New World on December 31, 1830, and for the next 37 years he traveled the length and breadth of the Great Lakes to minister to various Native American populations and to the mine workers. Many of the mine workers were immigrants who came to the Upper Peninsula from Europe to work in the iron and copper mines of the region. His personal practice was to rise at 3 a.m. in the summer and at 4 a.m.in the winter to start each day with three hours of prayer, which he continued until the end of his life. During the summer months, Father Baraga traveled on foot and by canoe. During the winter months, he traveled on snowshoes, thus giving him the nickname of the “Snowshoe Priest.”

Bishop Baraga was a gifted author and wrote long, detailed frequent accounts of his missionary activities, including in his three-volume diary. Just the sheer number of his writings is something to behold. He wrote seven Slovenian prayer books, and also authored 20 Native American language books. One of his great works is his monumental “Grammar and Dictionary of the Chippewa Language,” still in use today. He was the first Bishop to write pastoral letters in both the English and Chippewa languages.

I am very honored to serve on the advisory board of the Bishop Baraga Association. The BBA offices are located at the Baraga Education Center. Now that the Baraga house has been restored, people are encouraged to come and visit this historic site where you can review the life history of Bishop Baraga and also view various historic artifacts related to Bishop Baraga.

While at the restored Baraga house you can also view the room where Bishop Baraga is believed to have passed away. As some of you may be aware, the remains of Bishop Baraga are located in the Bishop Baraga Chapel at the St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette.

As noted, Bishop Baraga was born into nobility in the European country of Slovenia on June 29, 1797. To commemorate the anniversary of his birth date, people are encouraged to come for a visit to the Baraga Education Center this coming Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Again, the Baraga Education Center is located in Marquette at 615 South Fourth St. For any questions or for directions, the BBA phone number is (906) 227-9117. If you are interested, information regarding membership in the BBA is available at the Baraga Education Center. There is only a small annual fee for BBA membership.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.