Memory Eternal to Fr. Matthew Baker
During this evening's snow storm, he passed away in a tragic car accident while travelling home from Vespers at his parish. His children were with him, but were thankfully not injured.
Please understand something. Fr. Matthew lived to serve. He cared deeply for *others* and always gave freely of his time and expertise, without any financial reward. Unlike many intellectuals, he cared most deeply about *people*: helping them, mentoring them, encouraging them in faith and life.
During his life, he gave freely. Now, we who are left to cherish his memory must also give freely, in testimony to his unique gifts and in support of his wife and six children.
100% of the donations received in this campaign will go directly to his wife. She has 6 young children to care for, and has lost the family's only income.
Please give generously, and keep Fr. Matthew and his family in your prayers.
Presvytera Katherine and the kids are being cared for and doing about as well as can be expected, although it's simply not easy to adjust to life without husband and father.
It's been more than seven months since Fr. Matthew's untimely repose. In that time, a steady stream of honors and tributes have taken place. Fordham University awarded Fr. Matthew a posthumous Ph.D. in Theology. An international scholarly conference on philosophy and theology dedicated itself to his memory. Various publications are beginning to appear.
Yet Fr. Matthew's interests and activities extended beyond theological and scholarly matters. He was also a lover of poetry and the arts. So it is fitting that the next major event to be dedicated to his memory will be a concert of new sacred music composed by one of his friends, Benedict Sheehan.
“Fr. Matthew Baker was one of those rare, integrative, thinkers, who saw deep connections between seemingly disparate things,” Sheehan said. “My father was also such a thinker, and perhaps this is why from the first, I felt an intuitive bond with Fr. Matthew. It is for this reason, as well as the fact that I somehow felt the pain of his recent death, so sudden and tragic, perhaps even more sharply than the loss of my own beloved father five years ago, that I am dedicating the world premiere performance of Triduum Paschale—a piece that explores both the agony and hope of loss, and attempts to connect a number of disparate realities along the way—to Fr. Matthew’s memory.”
Sheehan’s Triduum Paschalae, a three-movement work for chorus and soloists that blends motifs from Eastern and Western Christianity, is a musical journey through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Although he never had the chance to hear the work performed, Fr. Matthew applauded Sheehan’s artistic vision in the composition and particularly loved the creative use of the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of Fr. Matthew’s favorite poets.
Sheehan’s liner notes explaining the composition reveal part of the reason for Fr. Matthew’s enthusiasm:
The first movement, The Crucifixion, is based on a translation of a 12th century Middle English lyric (famously set by Samuel Barber in his Hermit Songs) that acts as a kind of Stabat Mater—or in Orthodox terms, a stavrotheotokion—a heartbreaking glimpse into the Virgin Mary’s grief at the crucifixion of her Son. The second movement, Nondum, uses a poem by the great Jesuit poet and forefather of modernist poetry, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), interspersed with exclamations in Hebrew of Christ’s words from the Cross, Eli, eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?), coupled paradoxically with the joyful (and in the West, paschal) exclamation, Alleluia. The movement speaks of a world where God is seemingly and unaccountably absent, dead, and yet it conceals a profound hope that God will finally and fully reveal Himself in the end: “Yet to behold Thee as Thou art / I’ll wait (Alleluia) till morn eternal breaks.” The music is based on a Byzantine scale, and it features aleatoric solo passages in a microtonal Byzantine style composed in collaboration with, and first performed by, John Michael Boyer. The final movement, Easter, also based on a poem by Hopkins, is a profusion of paschal joy and exuberance. Anyone who has ever attended an Orthodox Easter vigil will immediately recognize the sort of reckless and overflowing spirit with which this movement—composed in a style faintly reminiscent of Early American psalm singing, and in mixed meter and mixed modes—is imbued.
Among those giving solo performances at the concert will be Portland-based baritone John Michael Boyer, known for his work with Cappella Romana, and soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi of the Chatauqua Opera Festival and the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
The event will be held at the Church of St. John Nepomucene, 411 East 66th Street, New York, NY, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door, but may be ordered in advance online at www.MonasteryChamberChoir.com. Proceeds benefit St. Tikhon's Seminary.
Please continue to keep Fr. Matthew and his family in your prayers, and consider joining many of his friends for an evening of beautiful sacred music dedicated to his memory.
I am in awe when I think of how many people (over seven thousand) have given to my family in our greatest need. I am well aware of how generous you all have been, and how some of you even gave out of your own need, like the widow in the parable. "Thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough. I think I want to say "Evcharisto" instead (the Greek word for thanksgiving and where we get the word "Eucharist"). Though the sound of it to Greek speakers is probably as ordinary to them as "thank you" is to English speakers... every time I am handed coffee or some such thing and get the chance to say "evcharisto," I remember that it is Christ that is at the heart of every gift or every act of kindness. I remember that "every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17) as we say in our liturgy. And so in gratitude, from all of us; Katherine, Isaac, Elias, George, Eleftheria, Cyril, and Matthew Jr: "Evcharisto!"
This Sunday, many churches held memorial services for Fr. Matthew. The 40 day anniversary of his repose came on Holy Thursday.
Thank you again for supporting his widow and young children, and for helping this campaign reach its goal.
If you would like to provide ongoing support or make additional donations, please visit: https://fathermatthewbaker.com/donations/
You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about other giving options, including:
1. Gift Cards for the Baker Family, especially to places like Target, Walmart, and grocery stores (Big Y, Aldi or Stop and Shop).
2. Underwriting the cost for childcare, giving Presvytera an occasional break and the ability to run errands.
Please keep the family in your prayers, and check https://fathermatthewbaker.com/ for news, updates, and eventually writings by Fr. Matthew.
Christ is risen!
Yesterday morning, early, I was working at the computer in my husband's office when I heard little feet running toward me. My four year old ran in the room and looked around and then looked at me, happy and expectant: "Did Daddy rise from the dead?" and I responded as I have several mornings since the accident, "No, not today, but he will. It will seem to take a long time to us, but he will." Completely undaunted, he smiles and saunters out. I suddenly realize that each morning he has been looking for the resurrection of his father. The story of Christ's resurrection is so real to him, he sees it as something that could happen any day and probably in the morning. I suppose we could smile at his immaturity, but I wonder if that is not the better attitude to have. Maybe this is what Christ meant when he said that we must, "become like a little child."
Thank you once again to the thousands of people from around the country, and the world, who have responded in charity to the tragic death of Fr. Matthew, who leaves behind his wife and six young children. He, and they, are dear to our hearts.
She sends this message:
Thanks for your prayers! I felt them today. We found his cassock with his wallet in the pocket (which was also Florovsky's wallet) and all the family icons. We also stopped by the accident site and found a shoe and his brown stocking hat (which had been his Father's). It was hard but it was good to see how destroyed the van was... to see how close the children were to being hurt and yet they weren't. It is a miracle.
She also wrote, of the first picture below:
This is baby Matthew's car seat. He was completely unhurt. I share with you a miracle.
Dear Presvytera, Let me paraphrase the words of St Nikolai Velimirovic: "Let us remember that Jesus Christ was a carpenter and carpenters cut down their trees, not when they are old and useless, but when they are at their best, and the Carpenter has need of them." These words were helpful to my wife and I when we lost two of our children and I pray they will be helpful to you in this difficult time. Moreover, let me encourage you as a fellow Orthodox. Remember that we count this life as nothing more than a bowl of lentils and the next as unimaginably valuable. Have no doubt that your husband, who gave all he had in this life to Christ, will not shine like the Sun in the next! He traded what he knew was worthless for the Pearl of greatest price. There can be no foolishness--on your part or his--for that. May God bless you and keep you and shine upon you and your children in all ways and in all things, great and inscrutable, glorious and awesome! In Christ,
I don't know you, nor you me. I found this via a friend raising money for her brother-in-law's sudden death. Fr. Matthew's story touched me. I am a Christian and I believe in reaching out to help others. I know that God will supply strength to the family. As I read all of the updates I see the beautiful words of Fr. Matthew's wife. Such a strong and wise young woman. The family will be in my prayers and I will donate to help the family. Keep hugging those children. They were saved to carry on their fathers work.
Fr. Matt concludes his second last sermon published 6 days before his passing into eternal life, with words that are prophetic: "This Lent, may we make our own these words of St. Ignatius of Antioch.... 'It is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to be king over the ends of the earth… The pains of birth are upon me. Allow me, my brethren; hinder me not from living, do not wish me to be stillborn… Allow me to imitate the passion of my God …when I shall have arrived there, I shall become a human being (Epist. ad Rom., 6).'" http://myocn.net/sixth-day-creation-fashioning-man/
May his memory be eternal! God gives a special miraculous grace to some people to prepare their soul for death in the last days before it comes. Fr. Matt was one of these people. In his last sermon, which he never delivered, Fr. Matt concluded by writing, "Let us, then, love one another, and seeking that “city which is to come” (Heb 13:14), receive him – with the prayer of the Spirit and the Bride upon our hearts: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)." If you read his sermon, (especially the last four paragraphs), you will realize that in writing it, Fr. Matt was making his last preparations for eternal life. May we all have as blessed an end. He died working for the church. He died taking care of his family. He died like a good soldier in God’s army; with his boots on. But he also wrote something for his wife and children; those closest to him, who will miss him and cry because he is gone. ‘“What shall pass from history into eternity?” asked Fr Georges Florovsky, of blessed memory. “The human person with all its relations, such as friendship and love.”’ Presbytera Katherine and children, you still have your husband and your daddy’s friendship, and his love. He wrote that you still have it. He is preparing the way for you and he loves you right now, even though you can’t see him. You can read his sermon here. http://myocn.net/city-cain-city-jesus/ In the Church’s Eucharist, we “taste and see” (Ps. 34:8) already – as in an icon, veiled under signs – that glorious future the Lord has prepared for his creation. Let us, then, love one another, and seeking that “city which is to come” (Heb 13:14), receive him – with the prayer of the Spirit and the Bride upon our hearts: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). These are beautiful last words and I will remember them. Please keep giving. $750,000 is not a lot to raise 6 children on.
my sympathies to you prevytera katherine & your children my prayers is with you. Im very sorry for your loss,god bless you& the children.
Dearest Presbytera Katherine -- I was brought to tears today (Sunday of the Cross), listening to the Gospel reading and thinking about your family's example of living out these verses, and your husband's Victory by the Power of the Cross! (Mark 8:34-38; 9:1) May God bless and keep you and your children. -Dn. Tom and Wendy Braun
Dear Presvytera, May the memory of your faithful husband be eternal. We are praying for your continued strength and peace, and for continued grace upon your beautiful children. My husband remembers your husband from Seminary. He remembers your husband as such a kind man and very easy to talk to. May the memories of his beautiful life be a comfort to you. May God hold you up standing beside you always. + Presvytera Tiffany & Father Jason Dickey
I had not yet met Matthew, but my son, John Whalen, this year a third year Fordham student had. Matthew helped my son in so many different ways. For most, helping him cope with the changes of being at college and away from home for the first time. John spoke of Matthew often and I could tell right away that Matthew was an inspiration to John. John truly thought of Matthew as a friend and someone who would be in his life for many years to come. God Bless, Father Matthew.
Home School Legal Defense has a Widow's Fund that helps provide curricula to widows who are homeschooling. This may help Presvytera in the future. Our prayers are with her and her family.
Bless your family and others who know of you.
Be careful everyone with the people commenting here saying they donated something "not much" and mentioning their own funding. It is sad they are trying to scam people on this site. I saw Jean Pierre and others on several gofundme campaigns soliciting.
C'mon, folks. Keep giving. God can use our Protestant credit cards, too! This is a man of God who is leaving a young family. Let the Lord shine through you!
Holy Trinity God Bless Fr,Matthew Baker in the Pyramid of His Pure Infinite Love,O-men,A-men.
I can't stop thinking about this beautiful family. We're also graduate students with young children, and are Orthodox who have benefited from the love, selflessness, and kindness of clergy and their families. My heart pours out to Pres. Katherine and her children, who have suffered an unimaginable loss. I wish I could give you so much more than we are able to. May you find peace, and may Fr. Matthew's memory be eternal.
My heart goes out to Matthew's widow and children and to his mother Evelyn and brother Greg. My husband and I knew Matthew as a very young man when we started attending St.Stephen's in Providence. They were very kind to us and my husband was particularly impressed with Matthew's interest in Orthodoxy which was a shared interest of theirs. He (my husband) was simultaneously pleased to hear he had taken that interest to it's logical conclusion by becoming an Orthodox priest--and genuinely grieved at such a tragic loss. For my part, I remember the kindness of his mother Evelyn, who once showed up at St.Stephens with a gift brand new 6 qt Croc-Pot containing a pot roast for our family. It was such a warm gesture (literally---it was warm---it was a pot roast!). If memory serves, the Bakers left St.Stephens around the time Fr.Stokes and his family left. They were all very missed.
Thank you for posting the podcast. I didn't know of Fr. Matthew until this tragedy, but after reading his writing and hearing his words, the layers of sadness over his death are deepened. May his memory be eternal, and may God comfort his beautiful family.
May his memory be eternal!
Katherine, I wish I never knew your name. Don't take that the wrong way. I mean, if Matt was still alive, I wouldn't know who you were. My thoughts, love and prayers are with you and the kids. I went through public education with him in Cranston.