On Saturday February 22 in St Stephen’s church hall, family and friends celebrated Fred Baker’s 100th birthday. The celebration followed Mass in the church for Fred’s intention attended by, among others, his five children, sixteen of his grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Father Christopher Basden, priest of this parish in the 1980s, concelebrated with Canon Edward and delivered a homily that was a touching tribute to my dear parents, Fred and his late wife, Della.
Fred has been an active member of St Stephen’s for more than 60 years. A familiar figure in the choir, a dedicated SVP member and a reliable contributor for everything from Eucharistic minister, lector and weekly collection counter, he remains engaged now beyond his century.
Those who know him know that Fred’s commitment to the church is characteristic of his whole approach to life.
He’s from an age when life was defined primarily by duty, not by entitlement. The primary animating principle of his life has been devotion: not to self, but to family; God; country.
In an era scarred by the detritus of broken families, he was a loyal husband and father. In an age when the culture seems to accord its highest accolades for bravery to those who make speeches about their own rights it’s worth remembering the kind of courage Fred and his generation showed. He volunteered for the British army in the days before the Second World War, and spent the next six and a half years in uniform.
And in an era when religion is increasingly a curiosity, my father has lived his life with an unshakable commitment to God.
Truly, a man for all seasons. For a century and more.