NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)–A lot of sadness Monday night at Holy Trinity Church in Norwich as parishioners say goodbye to their leader. Thirty-seven year-old Father Matthew Baker had only been there less than two months, but made quite an impression. He was a father of six and a husband, who’s intelligence and commitment to the church were recognized instantly.

Father Dean Panagos of St. Sophia’s in New London says, “His words, his excitement, his enthusiasm for Christ, was contagious.”

After leaving the church Sunday afternoon, the father of six lost control of his minivan on Route 2 west. Police say his car drifted into the center median packed with snow and rolled over several times. He died instantly Miraculously, his children survived.

Father Panagos says Father Baker filled in for him this past summer before being permanently assigned to Holy Trinity. His parishioners raved about him. Liz Louziotis of St. Sophia’s says, “He was so down to earth,very kind, spoke to everyone. He was kind and sincere.” Larry Wyland of Holy Trinity says, “The church had high hopes for him. He was going to be on the track of being a great theologian.”

Father Panagos says, “For the Orthodox Church worldwide this is an incredible shock. His PhD was going to be in Patristics, the study of church fathers. He’s known throughout the world for his writings. We thank god for the time we had with him.”

In just one day, almost $282,000 was raised for Father Baker’s family on a page.

The funeral arrangements for Baker are listed below.

Calling Hours

Friday, March 6th

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

247 Washington Street

Norwich, CT 06360

5:00-9:00 p.m.

Funeral Services

Saturday, March 7th

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

175 Oaklawn Avenue

Cranston, RI 02920

8:30-10:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy

10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Viewing

11:00 a.m. Funeral Service