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April 5, 2024

Formation: An Interview with Monsignor Andrew Baker

April 5, 2024
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Blessed Stanley Rother was asked to leave the seminary he was attending in Texas because he failed his first year of theology. He was struggling with Latin and at that time, in order to succeed, you needed to be fluent in the language. Determined to follow his calling, he reached out to his Bishop, who made a call to Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Rector at the time was Monsignor Mulcahy, who agreed to give Blessed Stanley a chance and offered to personally tutor him in Latin. The rest is history. Stanley Rother not only became a priest and a missionary, but he was the first American martyr. Sometimes all one needs is unwavering faith and a second chance.  

Monsignor Andrew Baker, the present Rector at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, talks to us about Blessed Stanley’s impact on the seminary and on him personally.

Msgr. Andrew Baker.

Rector of Mount St. Mary's

Q: What are your responsibilities as Rector?

I am responsible for overseeing the priestly formation program at the seminary including the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of the seminarians. With the help of various administrators and staff, we engage them in a robust philosophical and theological academic program as well as provide for their human development as virtuous men, the growth in their prayer life, and the exercise of charity in their pastoral activity.

Q: What is Blessed Stanley's connection to the Mount?  

Blessed Stanley arrived as a seminarian at the Mount in 1959. He received his priestly formation here until his ordination in 1963. Even after his ordination, Blessed Stanley kept in touch with the rector, Fr. Harry Flynn, and visited the Mount several times. As a seminarian, he was chair of the "Grotto Committee," which was a group of seminarians who helped take care of the grounds of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. After his beautification in 2017, the chapel of the seminary became the Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Stanley Rother, and we have two of his relics and a beautiful statue in our chapel of our Blessed alumnus.

Bl. Stanley Rother in Guatemala.

Blessed Stanley and the Mount

Q: Blessed Stanley loved the Grotto. What is special about Mary’s Mountain?

I have been rector of the Mount Seminary for nine years. There are many examples of how the Blessed Mother has intervened at critical moments to help the Mount with particular needs. She has helped us be faithful to our mission of priestly formation from the foundation by Fr. Dubois. There is something very special about Mount St. Mary's. Sometimes I simply need to sit back and let Our Lady work her intercessor power. I can always count on the people at the Mount, especially the alumni, to continue to support the seminary, Grotto, and university, to step up and do things, like this project, that helps people follow their divine call to holiness. It is amazing to witness!

Q: Can you talk about Blessed Stanley,  the first American Martyr, and Elizabeth Seton, the first American-born Saint,  and their formation on the mountain?

From the beginning, the Mount was a place of formation. Our founder, Fr. Dubois, established what he called a "minor seminary" on the foot of Mary's Mountain. It has been a place of "firsts." The first American-born saint, St. Elizabeth Seton, and the first American-born martyr were formed in their faith here. Both of them received the sacraments, spiritual direction, and an education from priests of the Mount. Their devotion to the Blessed Mother was fostered here.

Rother House

Q: Tell us about the Rother House, its purpose, and why it was named for him.

The Blessed Stanley Rother House of Formation accommodates a new stage of priestly formation called the "Propaedeutic Stage." This initial stage of formation is a non-academic year which emphasizes human and spiritual formation so as to give the new seminarian a strong foundation in order to better enter into the subsequent stages of priestly formation. It was named for him because we were hard-pressed to think of any better model for future priests, especially here at the Mount.

Q: Did you model any of the program after Blessed Stanley’s attributes?

One aspect of the program is working at the Grotto. Just as Blessed Stanley worked on the grounds of the Grotto, so the seminarians at Rother House, organized in work groups, now help with the maintenance of the Grotto. They are doing exactly what Blessed Stanley did. They also have to clean the house, serve each other at meals, and take care of the building. I think Blessed Stanley would be pleased to know that present-day seminarians are working hard at the Mount just as he did.

Paul Vinger portrays Bl. Stanley Rother.

Rother's Example in Our Lives

Q: How can people follow his example?

The attributes that stand out in my mind for all of us striving for holiness are Blessed Stanley's trust in divine providence, industriousness, prayerfulness, generosity to others, and missionary zeal. We can all find ways to live these virtues in our daily lives. In a particular way I would highlight his courage. In the face of difficulties and even the threat to his life, he remained faithful to his vocation and his people.

How has Blessed Stanley impacted you?

I did not know anything about Blessed Stanley when I arrived at the Mount in 2015. Not only have I learned about his life, but I have also come to admire him and even befriend him. Whenever there is a special need, I turn to him. He is a great example of priestly simplicity, industriousness, generosity, and zeal for our seminarians. He has taught me and our seminarians that you don't have to be successful. You just have to be faithful.

You can listen to Blessed Stanley Rother on Monday, April 8th at

Cover image (left to right): Franz Rother, Msgr. George Mulcahy, Fr. Stanley Rother, and Gertrude Smith Rother.

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