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Baker, Francis Asbury


Paulist missionary; b. Baltimore, Maryland, March 30, 1820; d. New York City, April 4, 1865. Baker, the son of Sarah (Dickens) and Dr. Samuel Baker, both Methodists, joined the Episcopal Church shortly after his graduation from Princeton College (later University), and in 1846 was ordained to the ministry. At St. Paul's church, his first assignment, and later as rector of St. Luke's church in Baltimore, he was considered one of the city's outstanding preachers. Under the influence of the oxford movement, he resigned his pulpit, and in 1853 he embraced Catholicism and entered the Redemptorist community. On Sept. 21, 1856, he was ordained in the Baltimore Cathedral (now basilica) and a month later joined four other American Redemptorist converts, Isaac Hecker, Augustine F. Hewit, George Deshon, and Clarence A. Walworth, in their missionary work throughout the United States. When Pius IX released the five missionaries from their Redemptorist vows in 1858, Baker united with Hecker, Hewit, and Deshon to form the Society of Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle (see paulists). While continuing his missionary career, he took a prominent part in inaugurating and establishing the Paulist tradition of ceremonial dignity in liturgical services.

Bibliography: j. mcsorley, Father Hecker and His Friends (2d ed. St. Louis 1953). v. f. holden, The Yankee Paul: Isaac Thomas Hecker (Milwaukee, WI 1958).

[v. f. holden]

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