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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Brian Fraga | author
May 01, 2020
Filed under Chaplains

Tigers fan burns brightly as Catholic shepherd


Father Mark Bauer, A lifelong fan of the Detroit Tigers, was a young seminarian in Rome in 1984 when he returned on vacation just in time to see his team win the World Series.

“That’s why I really believe God is good,” said Fr. Bauer, 62, now chaplain of Legatus’ Grand Rapids Chapter, with a hearty laugh during a recent interview with Legatus magazine.

In 1984, the Tigers were owned by Tom Monaghan, Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO. Growing up in Michigan, Fr. Bauer said he has long been familiar with Legatus’ mission, calling it “one of those organizations that is greatly needed today.” He was named the 2019 Great Lakes Region Chaplain of the Year.

How does it feel to have won the award? 

It’s very humbling. I didn’t do anything extraordinary. I just did what I promised to do and what I’m supposed to do. It’s nothing heroic.

What is your current assignment?

I am a priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and parochial vicar for two parishes, St. Charles Borromeo in Greenville and St. Joseph-St. Mary’s in Belding. It’s one Catholic community in two parishes and three churches. That can be challenging, but I enjoy it. We have really good people.

When did you first think you were called to be a priest?

Probably in middle school, certainly by the beginning of high school. But I loved physics and chemistry, and I wanted to be an engineer. I figured I would work for a few years and then go into the priesthood. Well, after a year of engineering class in college, I was like, “Okay, this is kind of dumb. Why do you want to take the long way around and end up in the same spot?” So I worked for another year at a grocery store to have the money for the seminary, and I entered two years out of high school. 

When were you ordained?

In 1986, as a priest for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. I served in a parish, a hospital, and in a mall chapel at the Prudential Center in Boston for about four years. In late 1993, I left the Oblates to come into the Diocese of Grand Rapids. I had felt an attraction to the diocesan priesthood and went through a discernment process for a year before I decided.

What are your impressions of the Legates in your chapter?

These are people committed to Legatus because they treasure the Church and what the Church has to offer. Trying to live good, upright, moral lives is very important to them, and I see my role as helping them. They’re enthusiastic about their faith. Anyone who isn’t doesn’t join Legatus.

Do you enjoy any hobbies?

I take vacations so I can hunt during deer season. Some of us also get together to go shooting, and we probably spend more time talking about Catholic things. I also love NASCAR and reading, especially about history and World War II because my dad fought in the war. I also like to read about the Revolutionary War because when I was in Boston I would go to all the reenactments. I find George Washington and what he pulled off so fascinating.

Who are your spiritual role models?

St. Ignatius of Loyola, because I was trained in his spirituality. Also St. Therese of Lisieux, and certainly Pope St. John Paul II, because he was elected when I was in Rome and I served Mass for him. He had a wonderful pastoral dimension.


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