Father William Baer dies unexpectedly

| January 14, 2018 | 12 Comments

Father William Baer, 60, pastor of Transfiguration in Oakdale, died early Jan. 14.

Father William Baer

The parish made the announcement on its Facebook page that afternoon, and people began posting condolences thereafter.

“I can’t describe how much Father Baer meant to my family,” posted Chad Parent. “He has done so much for us, and we will be eternally grateful.”

In her post, Jane Johnston referred to Father Baer as a “walking Bible.”

“Other than our guide in Jerusalem who is a ‘walking Bible,’ the only other person I’ve known is Father Baer, who was also a walking Bible,” she wrote. “I often thought while listening to him how one person can hold so much knowledge. We were his parishioners, and we all were so blessed to have had him as our shepherd. What a[n] honor to have known such a person. May we never forget his wit and his never-ending desire to teach us the way to Jesus.”

Father Baer was born May 25, 1957, in Baltimore and ordained a priest May 25, 1996, at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He has served as Transfiguration’s pastor since 2011. He was the former rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, and had served as assistant pastor and parochial administrator at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, chaplain of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life, and chaplain at Hill-Murray School in Maplewood.

A funeral Mass will be 10 a.m. Jan. 23 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Jan. 22, followed by an all-night vigil until 7 a.m. Jan. 23 at Transfiguration. Burial will take place in Baltimore. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Transfiguration or Little Sisters of the Poor, Baltimore.



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  • Anne Maloney

    When Fr. Baer served at Nativity of our Lord Parish, my son–he was about seven years old at that time, told me that Fr. Baer was named Fr. Baer because “he was a bearer of Christ.” That is so true. Rest in peace, Fr. Baer. You fought the good fight and you finished the race.

  • mitch

    My wife and I were blessed to have been married by Fr. Baer 17 years ago. While he will be greatly missed by those whose lives he touched in this life, we are grateful for the reward that awaits him in the next.

  • John Northenscold Jr

    A more joyous promoter of the priesthood I have not known. As a parent of one of his seminarians at SJV I was never in doubt about our sons faithful formation. Fr. Baer’s vision for the Archdiocese and the promotion of religious vocations for women and men helped our Archdiocese recognize and support many young people answer their vocation call as young Samuel did.

  • A wonderful priest. My condolences to his family, friends and parishioners past and present.

  • Matthew Gerlach

    Fr. Baer was an exemplary priest, one of the most brilliant and saintly men I have ever known. Made a huge impact on my life. May the good Lord grant him rest with all the saints.

  • tj.nelson

    I am so sorry. Fr. Baer was one of the very best priests I have ever encountered – he was a wonderful confessor – the best. His enthusiasm was infectious and totally authentic. May he rest in peace. Prayers in thanksgiving for his holy, fruitful priesthood.

  • Kevin

    i met Fr. Baer when I was a freshman in college and he was on staff for University Christian Outreach at the University of Michigan. He was a great man and a great example for young men. I’ve only been to Minnesota a couple of times, but one was for his ordination. Many of my peers are both saddened and joyful at this news.

  • phil blazovich

    In a time of political correctness, tolerance, permissiveness, feels good..do it, a man rises from the ashes of weak, self serving, 40 hour a week priests, who just go through the motions waiting to dine out, attend an event and get a tee time. He was a MAN who realized he does not have a job, he has a VOCATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was 24/7 a priest, the representative on earth of Christ, and he wanted to do all he could in every moment of every day. Never ever have I seen one man make a bigger difference than he did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just read the saint of the day a few days ago. St Hillary….he lived to 112 and was a hermit for 90 years! So what. How about preaching and confessing? That was Fr Bear! He was a light with no basket over it every waking moment. If there ever was a man who you could use as a poster boy for priesthood recruiting, it was him. His sermons, delivered without script, with hand motions, noises, crescendos, on point, and yet brief, were every ones highlight! His daily mass sermons were ALSO TRULY OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He wasn’t just going through the motions to get his daily mass “out of the way”, EVERYDAY, day in and day out, he was giving his 100%, which was probably 500% of other priests’ 100%! Now I know how the apostles felt when Jesus was taken up to heaven. God sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen them for their job ahead, as they hid in the upper room in fear. I firmly believe that from this massive sadness will rise good. We have a loud, booming voice advocating for us at the “upper level” now, and he will not rest for all eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kathleen Randolph

    Among the Saints! Our family was blessed to know and love this great man and Holy Priest. As Chaplain of St Paul Serra he passionately supported vocations and blessed members spiritually. He will be deeply missed. Rest In Peace dear friend.

  • Katie Gunn

    Father Baer was the most Christlike human being next to our pope. He helped my mother after the loss of her husband of 70 years. My daughter , who suffers from a terrible disease and brain seizures, was blessed by Father Baer. He told me everything would be alright and he was right. She stopped having seizures and has been seizure free for 10 months. She had been having 25 seizures a night. I attribute that to the blessings from Father Baer and the doctors at Mayo Clinic. Father Baer was an angel on earth and is now the brightest star in the heavens. God bless you Father Baer. He gave hope where others failed.

  • Roy Hobbes

    Requiescat in pace.

  • Jennifer Girard

    He also did masses At the university of st. Thomas college