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Baraga Days in the Diocese of Gaylord

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As part of the celebration for the 40th Anniversary, the 2011 Baraga Days will be held in the Diocese of Gaylord. Baraga Days are an annual remembrance and celebration of Bishop Frederic Baraga — a legendary figure in the history of northern Michigan and a pioneer of the American Catholic Church. He was the first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, composing the entire Upper Penninsula of northern Michigan. Bishop Baraga is honored throughout the region by having schools, a city, and a county named after him, as well as shrines dedicated to him. The Bishop Baraga Association, headquartered in the Diocese of Marquette, is dedicated to his memory and is the architect behind the annual Baraga Days celebration.

This year's Baraga Days will take place September 23-25, with activities centered around the home of the great priest’s first missionary assignment — the area then known as Arbre Croche or Wau-Go-Naw-Ki-Sa, the Land of the Crooked Tree, a Native American settlement spreading from modern day Harbor Springs to Cross Village, Michigan. Registration forms, map, schedule of events and hotel information can be found and downloaded from the bottom of this webpage.

Baraga Days traditionally brings hundreds of Bishop Baraga devotees to celebrate this man. His followers come by the busload from points near and far. Groups are expected from Duluth, Chicago, Cleveland, Canada, Slovenia and the Upper Peninsula. Many of the travelers are Slovenian. They bring with them a tradition of music, fellowship, spirituality and kinship to Bishop Baraga.

Traditionally Baraga Days consists of several components: a Mass celebrated in the Slovenian language with Slovenian music; a Mass celebrated in English; visiting sites where Bishop Baraga lived or is celebrated; and a banquet. All of which will be incorporated into the celebration in the Diocese of Gaylord. The schedule for this year's events is as follows:

  • September 23: Cross in the Woods, Indian River. Choral presentation and blessing of a painting by local artist Jane Cardinal of Bishop Baraga.
  • September 24: Pilgrimage sites will be open during the daytime with a Slovenian Mass being planned at Holy Childhood, Harbor Springs
  • September 25: Pilgrimage sites will be open during the daytime with a Mass in English at St. Francis, Petoskey. The “Singing Slovenes” will perform prior to the Association Banquet which will be held at North Central Michigan College, Petoskey.

The pilgrimage sites will include:

  • Beaver Island – Bishop Baraga was the first priest (and bishop) to offer Mass on the Island;
  • Burt Lake (known as Chaboigan/Shaboigan in the Baraga diaries) – see St. Mary Church and 2 Native American cemeteries;
  • Cheboygan (known as Duncan in the diaries) — visit St. Mary’s Church and the State Historical Marker noting that Bishop Baraga offered Confirmation here - the parish school is presently known as “Bishop Baraga School”;
  • Cross Village – Cemetery & Area Museum with much history on Bishop Baraga; be sure to visit Holy Cross Church;
  • Good Hart – visit St. Ignatius Church (near the old “Middle Village” Site)
  • Harbor Springs (known as L’Arbre Croche in the diaries) – visit Holy Childhood Church, the present home of the parish where Fr. Baraga was pastor;
  • Indian River – Cross in the Woods Shrine, World’s Largest Wooden Cross and a new painting of Bishop Baraga;
  • Peshawbestown (on the Leelanau Peninsula past Traverse City) – visit Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church
  • Petoskey (known as Agamin in the diaries) – visit St. Francis Solanus Mission Church & Burial Ground; built in 1859 it was built and blessed by Bishop Baraga and is the oldest building in Emmet County.

To learn more about Bishop Baraga and support his cause for sainthood, visit the Bishop Baraga Association website.