During my 15 years of married life, I have been very fortunate to have had a number of good pastors. I have been a member of three different parishes in three different dioceses during that time, and have had a total of five pastors in fifteen years. All have been men who faithfully strive to serve the Lord and their parish.
My first pastor, however, does have a special place in my heart. Fr. Ed Bayer was the pastor at Holy Family in Randallstown, Maryland during the mid-1990′s when my wife moved there right after our wedding. Fr. Bayer was a no-nonsense, old-school priest who was devoted to serving the Church. Yet I don’t want someone to get the idea that he was a crusty curmudgeon; on the contrary, he was a loving pastor who would do anything for his people. His specialty was moral theology, and he used his vast knowledge in this area in a loving, pastoral fashion – never compromising the Truth yet always extending mercy to those who fell short of the Christian ideal.
On a personal note, Fr. Bayer was a wonderful confessor, and he also introduced me to a Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical group that was then forming in the Baltimore area, and this group was a major factor in my own deepening knowledge and appreciation of the beauty of Eastern Christianity.
After I moved away from the Baltimore area, I heard that Fr. Bayer, at the age when most people retire, had volunteered to go to New Guinea and teach seminarians there. He lived there for about a decade, faithfully forming new priests to bring Christ’s sacraments to those in need. When I heard he was going to the other side of the world at a time when most people are only thinking of a well-deserved rest after long decades of work, I was not surprised. Fr. Bayer did not ever think of himself, but instead put service to Christ and his Church above all else.
Fr. Ed Bayer passed away last Thursday. Well done, good and faithful servant.
If you have a moment, please say a prayer today for the repose of Fr. Bayer’s soul.