Known as the City of Lackawanna, and sitting on the shore of Lake Erie, is a place many believed miracles happened in the nineteenth century.
The story starts with the Venerable Nelson Baker. Born in 1842, and raised in a middle-class family while practicing the faith of his Lutheran father. His mother was a devote Catholic and later in his life he would convert.
His first assignment as a priest was to the institutions of Limestone Hill because of his excellent business sense, considering the high debt they were carrying. To deal with the cost of high heating bills, spending a night in prayer, and sprinkling Holy water on the ground, the drilling began on the property to locate natural gas. Several days went by, rosaries galore were prayed, then gas was found. It is still an active gas source today that could be used if needed.
Father Baker, was inspired by his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He went on to be known as the “Padre of the Poor.” His ministries over sixty years included:
A home for young adult women
The working boys home
St. John’s Protectory
St. Joseph’s Boys orphanage
A home for unwed mothers
An infant home
Basilica of Our Lady of Victory
The Basilica held its first Mass on Christmas of 1925.
Materials used in the church consist of:
African Mahogany wood for the pews
Forty-six kinds of marble
Lifesize figures of the stations of the cross
Dramatic artwork in the dome
On the exterior there a twin towers with on the sides of a magnificent dome.
Four guardians angels are placed on the corners
An estimated 1500-2500 angels adorn the church
In 1987, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the initiation of Father Baker’s cause for canonization. He lays in rest today in a tomb at the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Victory.
The legacy continues today at Baker’s Victory Services and is unlikely to end. Childcare, dental services, mental health care, foster care, education, and many more community resources. A museum is also located on the bottom level of the church.
A humble life- Venerable Nelson Baker 1842-1936
Lackawanna is a south town suburb of Buffalo New York.