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English

Pot me je zanesla v zgornji Michigan, kamor sem moral zaradi nekega srečanja. Pred začetkom uradnega programa sem imel par dni časa, da kratko raziščem območje. Četudi popoln nepoznavalec sem po pregledovanju zemljevida vendar razumel, da je točno to ozemlje kraj, kjer je deloval Friderik Baraga. Velika jezera. Vedel sem tudi to, da je po imenovanju za škofa stolico prenesel v mesto Marquette, kot je še danes. Dosti več pa mi ni ostalo v spominu, branju Rebulovega pisanja Duh velikih jezer navkljub. Na predvečer sem torej začrtal pot točno tja, v Marquette. Stolnica sv. Petra je konec koncev izvrsten kraj za praznovanje 29. junija. Okrog pol poldne sem prispel na prazno parkirišče in sledil oznakam Baraga.

Vstopim skozi vrata in se znajdem v kapeli, kjer je svetnik pokopan. Kot bi vstopil na kraj, kjer sta se srečala zemlja in nebesa. Njegovo telo v sarkofagu je bilo tako zemeljsko, tako bližnje in otipljivo. V njegovi prisotnosti sem se počutil tako potrjenega v svojem (daljnem) poslanstvu, popolnoma v miru. Obenem pa je njegovo svetniško življenje dajalo neko nebeško noto, ki bi jo težko popisal, sem jo pa doživel. Tam zraven stoji mož, ki me prijazno pozdravi, jaz pa njega. Samo nekaj besed … na koncu mu povem, da sem iz iste dežele kot Baraga. Ah, tako kot naš kaplan, nadaljuje. Mislil sem ti, ti presneti Američani, vsaj tukaj bi lahko vedeli. Škof, ne kaplan, odvrnem. In on: ampak kaplan tudi. Jernej. Uf, izgovoril je tako pristno in pravilno, da bi se težko motil. Mislil sem si, pri nas se vsi poznamo, torej poskusim: In kako se piše vaš Jernej? In on: Šuštar. Ne se hecat! Z njim sva bila skupaj v gimnaziji … nisem razlagal, samo ostal sem z vprašanjem, kako je to možno.

Ura je odbila poldan, pri mimoidočih sem poizvedel za mašo ob štirih popoldan. Torej imam še slabe 4 ure časa: sprehod po mestu, kratko kosilo, molitev in maša. Ravno prav. Vzamem nahrbtnik in zapustim cerkev, nakar pred mene stopi precej visok duhovnik. Zares je bil Jernej, zdaj duhovnik in očitno tamkajšnji kaplan. Svašta! Hi, I’m father Jernej. Jaz sem pa Janez. Tako sva začela nenadejano srečanje, ki sva ga končala zvečer. Skočila sva v Baragovo hišo (kjer imajo posrečeno ohranjeno mesto, kjer je svetnik umrl), na kosilo, molila, maševala in se končno sprehodila o obalah Gornjega jezera. Noro lepo, z njim pa še lepše. In za konec. Jernej mi je v nekem trenutku rekel: dobro si tole splaniral, na Baragov rojstni dan. Ne morem verjeti: 29. junij je bil Baragov rojstni datum! Baraga made my day.

English

Baraga

I planned to attend a meeting in the Green Bay area so I thought I could make my way up to the UP as I had a couple of days to travel around. To be very honest, I had no idea where that was. The only thing I knew was that Frederic Baraga, Slovenian missionary and later the first bishop of Marquette, MI, was active in precisely this area. Well, the great lakes area. I didn’t recall much more than that, although I read Rebula’s novel The spirit of the great lakes. The evening before I planned to visit Marquette. After all, St. Peter’s cathedral seems a perfect place to celebrate June, 29, the Feast of St. Peter and Paul. I parked my car at the parking lot just before noon and followed the signs Baraga.

I entered the church and came to the chapel where the bishop is buried. As if I got in a place where heaven and earth met. His body in a sarcophagus was so earthly, so close and tangible. His presence made me feel wholly confirmed in my (far away) mission and entirely in peace. There was also a note of heaven being present through his saintly life. I could hardly describe it, but I felt it clearly. There was a man with whom we exchanged a few words. Towards the end of our chat, I added that I come from the same country as Bishop Baraga. Oh, just like our associate pastor. I thought, these bloody Americans, at least here they could have known about our country. I said, The bishop, not priest. He insisted, The priest as well, father Jernej. My God, this pronunciation was so proper that it could be real. I thought to myself, we all know each other, so let’s try: What his last name? Šuštar. You gotta be kidding me! We went to the same high school … I didn’t really explain that, but I instead thought, how on earth is that possible.

It was just past noon, and I got the information the mass would be at 4pm. Which meant I still had 4 hours: a little walk in town, quick lunch, holy hours, and the Eucharist. Sounds perfect. I took my bag and left the church … and there he was in front of me: a tall priest. It really was Jernej, now father Jernej, and I guess the associate pastor of the cathedral church. Hi, I’m Father Jernej. Jaz sem pa Janez, I answered in Slovenian. This is how we started our meeting, which lasted until the evening. We visited the Baraga’s house (where we could see wholly preserved part of the room where the bishop Baraga died), we had lunch, prayer time and mass, followed by a lovely walk along the beach of the Lake Superior. Crazily beautiful but living it with him, even more! There was a moment when Jernej said I planned well to come around on Baraga’s birthday. No joke: June 29 is the birthday of Bishop Baraga! He made my day.

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