Some say they can still feel the spiritual presence of Nelson H. Baker watching over them as they stroll the Our Lady of Victory Basilica campus on the corner of Ridge Road and South Park Avenue in Lackawanna. After today, they'll be able to visualize a form of his presence too.
A life-size bronze statue of Father Nelson Baker was unveiled this morning at the church's recently renovated St. Joseph Garden.
Head of Our Lady of Victory's Institutions Msgr. Paul J.E. Burkard said the statue will stand as a sign of gratitude to Father Baker, whose work in the community included not only the basilica, but an infant home, a home for unwed mothers, a boys orphanage, a boys protectory, a hospital, a nurses home, and two schools.
"The statue faces the property here, but also Lackawanna," said Msgr. Burkard. "It is a representation of him blessing his work here."
Father Baker, center, and the OLV Institutions offered a complete lifetime of care to those in need (birth-5 at the Infant Home, 5-10 at the Orphanage, 10-15 at the Protectory, and 15+ at the Working Boys Home).
Church leaders said they had planned on erecting a statue of Father Baker for quite some time, but an undisclosed donation from a private family from Western New York made their visions reality a year or two ahead of schedule.
"Several months ago a family approached me and said they wanted to donate funds for this," said Msgr. Burkard.
"They felt their family had been particularly blessed by Father Baker over the years and they wanted to say thank you to him for that."
The statue is located on the northeast corner of South Park Avenue and Ridge Road next to the site of Father Baker's original orphanage.