This year, we commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the death of Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga. He was a Slovenian priest who spent 37 years travelling by canoe, snowshoe and foot in order to minister primarily to the Ojibwe and Ottawa Indians in Upper and Lower Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Baraga was known for his assiduous devotion to prayer, his love for the people he served and his dogged spirit.
Inspired by the Canadian “Bishop’s Trail” and the missionary zeal of Bishop Baraga, Tom, Fr. Kevin and our friend Joe spent four days canoeing and portaging in the Boundary Waters.
We began with a time of praise at the site of Father Baraga’s Cross, where Baraga and company erected a wooden cross in thanksgiving to God for having survived a treacherous journey across Lake Superior by canoe.
Nourished each day by the Word of God and the Eucharist in Mass and Adoration (and a few hot meals before we ran out of dry firewood and gas for the stove), we also reflected on Baraga’s life and on John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart.
We traveled a loop from Brule Lake pocked with 11 portages. This included mucking our way through a swamp in a downpour. We encountered the pristine beauty of creation, including Minnesota’s state bird (the Common Loon) and our state flower (the Lady’s Slipper).
We are grateful for this opportunity to learn about Venerable Baraga, to encounter God in the silence and to grow in fraternity. (We’re also grateful that our gear and clothes have dried out.)
There are plans in the works for a winter pilgrimage to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit the tomb of this “Snowshoe Priest”…
Bishop Frederic Baraga, ora pro nobis!
Fr. Kevin (MN)