Brattleboro pastor oversees busy parish that does many charitable works
As pastor of St. Michael Parish in Brattleboro, Father Justin Baker oversees numerous busy ministries — including an elementary and high school and help for those who are food insecure — but he’s quick to point out that he is not a micromanager.
“I’m lucky I have good people in good places,” he said, praising parishioners who are involved in the day-to-day work of the parish, St. Michael School and High School and St. Bridget’s Kitchen
Charitable works are plenty at St. Michael Parish and include: an Advent Giving Tree, Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, gas vouchers, meals, vouchers for hotel stays for people in need, an annual Mass for bereaved parents and a Mass of Remembrance for those who have died in the past year and Valentine’s Day roses for the elderly.
But as he said, Father Baker is “not a sit-around kind of guy;” rather, he “likes to make sure things are happening.”
As charitable works go on, he keeps busy with Masses (some of which are recorded for cable or livestreamed), Benediction, Eucharistic Adoration, home visits, sacramental preparation, classroom visits at the Pre-K-12 school across Walnut Street from the rectory and meetings; the list goes on.
Father Baker also serves as dean of the Windham/Windsor deanery, the largest deanery in the state covering some 2,000 square miles.
So much gets done in the “happy and joyful” parish because parishioners “are a generous lot,” the pastor said. “These are very, very good people who love God and serve Him well.”
Parishioners are quick to volunteer to help, and they follow through.
Father Baker recalled one request the parish received to help a homeless man get needed clothing. Parishioners not only purchased the needed items for him, they delivered it all to him. “We try to help whoever we can,” he said.
“I can’t see and know everything that needs to be done,” he said, noting the importance of doing to others as you would have them do to you. So he relies on parishioners’ help. “It could be an angel at the door (requesting help), right?”
He tries to “meet others where they’re at because that’s where they’re at,” he said. “That’s what Christ did.”
And it is God who motivates him. “I serve God. What else is there to do in life?” he said.
—Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.