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RE-ENACTORS TO SALUTE FATHER BAKER FOR SERVICE IN CIVIL WAR MILITIA UNIT

Soldiers in uniform will help salute a candidate for sainthood Sunday in Lackawanna.

The Civil War service of Nelson Baker, who later would enter the priesthood and build the Our Lady of Victory complex, will be remembered by a re-enactment regiment during this year's "Father Baker's Day" procession from the basilica to Holy Cross Cemetery.

As a young man, Father Baker served a 30-day enlistment with the 74th New York, a militia unit that saw picket duty near Gettysburg during the famous battle.

The military salute will be provided by uniformed Civil War re-enactors at Father Baker's grave site, after a procession following noon Mass.

"They're going to dedicate a marker to his having been a part of the regiment," said Monsignor Robert C. Wurtz, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Basilica. "That was before he went into the seminary."

The annual procession commemorates the death of the beloved Lackawanna priest, who died July 29, 1936, at the age of 94. He had enlisted in the militia at the age of 22, during the excitement about the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania.

In a short but eventful tour of duty, Nelson and his regiment also watched part of Lee's withdrawal across the Potomac and were later sent to help quell draft riots in New York City.

Holy Cross Cemetery Superintendent Ronald Paszek will be the featured speaker during the grave site ceremonies, after the procession down flag-lined lanes from the church to the cemetery.

Father Baker founded Our Lady of Victory Homes of Charity, which included an orphanage, hospital, nursery and home for unwed mothers.

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