Baraga Days is an annual celebration of the life of Bishop Baraga, an important part of the history of northern Michigan and a pioneer of the American Catholic Church.

The celebration will be hosted by the Diocese of Grand Rapids from September 2 - 3 in Grand Rapids.

More than 150 people from around the country are expected to come to Grand Rapids to celebrate Bishop Frederic Baraga.

In 1833, Baraga established the beginnings of Saint Andrew Church in Grand Rapids, which is now the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. He built the first church, St. Mary’s Mission, on Indian cornfields on the west bank of the Grand River. Around the same time, he chose a site which the Catholic Odawa wished to have as their center for prayer near the Lakeshore. The bluff is thought to be Pigeon Hill in present-day Muskegon, which overlooks Muskegon Lake.

Baraga was the first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette and is also well-known for his ministry in Michigan’s lower peninsula, part of which became the Diocese of Grand Rapids when it was formed in 1882.

Baraga was the first of many Slovenian missionaries. He came to the U.S. in 1830 to minister to the Odawa and Ojibwa tribes in the upper Great Lakes region. He became known as the “snowshoe priest” for his time in the Upper Peninsula.

Schedule of events at Baraga Days:

Saturday, Sept. 2:

  • 3pm - Native American presentation and Drum Circle at Cathedral Square Center (360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids)
  • 6:30pm - Mass in Slovenian at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew (301 Sheldon Ave. SE, Grand Rapids)
  • 8pm – Dinner and fellowship at Cathedral Square Center (registration and pre-payment required)

Sunday, Sept. 3:

  • 11am - Presentation on the “Life and Times of Bishop Baraga – A Historical Review” by James A. Surrell, MD at the Crowne Plaza hotel (5700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids)
  • 1:30pm – Drum Circle at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew
  • 2pm – Mass in English with Bishop Walkowiak at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew
  • 4pm – Banquet and Baraga Association Annual meeting at the Crowne Plaza (registration and prepayment required)