Greek Orthodox priest, native of Cranston, killed in Conn. crash

Funeral to be held Saturday at Oaklawn Ave.’s Church of the Annunciation

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Funeral arrangements have been announced for a Greek Orthodox priest, Cranston native and father of six who was killed in a weekend car crash in Connecticut.

According to reports, Fr. Matthew Baker, 37, of Danielson, Conn., was driving home from Holy Trinity Parish in Norwich, Conn. – to which he had been assigned in January – just before 4 p.m. on March 1 when he lost control of his 2002 Dodge Caravan. He was thrown from the vehicle as it rolled several times. His children were traveling with him and were released from the hospital after being treated for minor injuries.

Baker was ordained in January 2014 at the Church of the Annunciation on Oaklawn Ave. in Cranston. It was the first time in 34 years the parish had hosted such a ceremony and just the fourth in its more than 100-year history.

“For me, priestly service forms a unity with my academic work in theology, my teaching work and family life,” Baker told the Cranston Herald before the ordination.

Calling hours will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 6 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, located at 247 Washington St. in Norwich, Conn.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 7 at the Church of the Annunciation, located at 175 Oaklawn Ave. in Cranston. Divine liturgy will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., with a viewing from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the funeral at 11 a.m.

Meanwhile, a campaign has been established to support Baker’s family. As of Tuesday afternoon, the GoFundMe page “Memory Eternal to Fr. Matthew Baker” (gofundme.com/nizf2g) had raised more than $370,000. A memorial has also been established at fathermatthewbaker.com.

Baker grew up in Cranston, attending Waterman Elementary, Park View Junior High and Cranston High School East. After teaching English at a private school in Virginia, he was received into the Orthodox Church in 2001 and married his wife, Katherine, in 2002.

Baker received theological degrees from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School in Massachusetts. He also pursued doctoral studies in systematic theology at Fordham University in New York.

Following his ordination, he began teaching duties at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., as an adjunct professor in theology.

He is survived by his wife and six children: Isaac, 12; Elias, 10, George, 8; Ellie, 6; Cyril, 4; and Matthew, 2.

The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston mourned Baker’s loss in a statement on its website.

“Please join His Eminence as we pray for Fr. Matthew’s eternal repose. We pray for Presbytera Kate, their six beautiful children, Fr. Matthew’s mother and their entire family, that the Lord surround them in His comforting and peaceful embrace. May he rest in peace! May his memory be eternal!”

Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, on his “Roads to Emmaus” blog on the website Ancient Faith Blogs (blogs.ancientfaith.com), reflected on losing his friend of 10 years. He also compiled a list of online tributes to Baker that have been posted over the last several days.

“Promising. Brilliant. Down-to-earth. Genius. Important. Animated. Passionate. These are all words that I have heard used [and myself used] to describe Fr. Matthew,” Damick wrote. “He loved preaching. He loved worship. He loved talking to people. He loved people.”

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