LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s been almost 30 years, but the bid to secure sainthood for Father Nelson Baker continues. Those who work to carry on his legacy say it may take “heroic” patience.
The Buffalo born priest has been praised for building what’s been called a “city of charity.” He’s well known for serving orphans, and the poor.
Monsignor Paul Burkard said, “I think every community looks for a hero, someone they can look up to. I think Father Baker is that man in Western New York.”
Beth Donovan, Director of the Father Baker Museum, said, “He was driven for years just by the desire to help those in need.”
What separates him from the next step is simply, a miracle.”
Monsignor Burkard said, “We’re reading the miracle case in front of them, which will take Father Baker from the step that he is now which is venerable, to blessed.”
To be a saint, the vatican needs to recognize two miracles. This “case” includes crates of documents, testimony, even photographs. A “positio,” a summary of the case heads to Rome too.
Burkard said, “The church takes a long time on this, and I’ve got a real appreciation for why the church does this, since I’ve been involved in it.”
Monsignor Burkard goes to Rome twice a year to see this through. He can’t tell us exactly what the first miracle is yet, but says it involves a medical cure and someone who was blessed by Father Baker.
He says this path to Sainthood takes patience. He said, “We have to wait our turn. Many times it takes some time to get to the work itself.”
There are over two thousand cases being reviewed now by about 14 people. It’s not cheap either, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But those who help to carry on his legacy say its worth it.
Burkard said, “We can teach us so much about how we can live our lives following his example.”
Donovan said, “He’s really like our hometown hero. He is our own Mother Teresa. I think everybody is clamoring for that, our hero to be recognized. And it’s really going to turn Western New York over when the next big step happens.”
Monsignor Burkard will head to Rome this May to meet with canonization lawyers there. He says he’s hopeful that the certification of that first miracle will happen soon.