Young Adult Perspectives: An Interview with Thomas Baker, FSSP Denver

Thomas Baker

Being a young adult today is a big challenge. Sometimes it’s easy for young people to get discouraged at the state of the world, the constant challenges to their Faith and the lack of true friendship and fellowship in modern society. But there is every reason to hope. Young, faithful Catholics exist and they possess a joy and a zeal that stand strong against the forces of the world. Case in point: Thomas Baker, a  young Thomas Aquinas College student who hails from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Littleton, Colorado. We got the chance to talk to Thomas and ask him about his Faith, his goals and aspirations and how he connects with his fellow Catholic young adults.

Missive: Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been attending Our Lady of Mount Carmel?

Thomas as thurifer at Mass

TB: My name is Thomas Baker, and I’m the oldest of 8 kids, all homeschoolers. My brothers and I are regular altar servers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We’ve been at this parish for a long time; I was born in the D.C. area, but my family moved to Colorado when I was about 4. We quickly discovered Our Lady of Mount Carmel and have been going there ever since. I am now a student at Thomas Aquinas College in California, but I come home between semesters.

Missive: Being a young adult is challenging these days. Many people your age don’t go to church, and the world proffers you many replacements for God. How do you keep your faith strong in the midst of all these difficulties?

Thomas’ home parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel

TB: As an intellectual, I’m not really tempted by the glamor of the world, so the only thing I really see as a potential danger is the appeal of science as a replacement for God. The atheists and agnostics can be very compelling to some; from what I’ve observed in my conversations with them, their views aren’t self-contradictory, and are difficult to disprove using premises that they would agree with. Ultimately their arguments are based on unreasonable assumptions, but these are sometimes tricky to sort out, so less keen individuals with weak foundations in the Faith can be very vulnerable to their position. I have a strong foundation in the Faith, so this isn’t much of a problem for me, but I don’t want to take any chances. Therefore I’ve built a collection of particular experiences and observations that I know are true, and I use these as support for the doctrines of our Faith. In addition, I pray frequently that I will stay strong in the Faith, since ultimately we can do nothing without God.

Missive: What do you do for work? Is there any way that you try to bring your Faith to the workplace?

TB: For my summer job, I worked at Dish Network as a software engineer. My project was focused on finding and understanding security vulnerabilities in the Hopper 3, Dish’s most advanced DVR. In general when I work, I try to give a virtuous example to the people I’m working with. Usually this involves my attitude, but can also include more obvious signs like praying grace before meals. I also pray for the people I work with. Actually, one of our new security guards is a Christian who has been thinking more about his relationship with God, and I’ve spoken with him about that. Hopefully I’ve planted a seed that will eventually bring him to the right path.

Missive: Do you have any hobbies you like to pursue? Any projects or big dreams you are working on?

In the winter

TB: I’m a largely self-taught pianist. I love the piano; lately I’ve been practicing the first movement of Pathétique (probably my favorite Beethoven sonata), as well as cleaning up some Joplin pieces I’ve learned in the past. I recently wrote a short piece of my own which I’m working on playing more smoothly. Besides music, I’m also interested in math and science, and I hope to eventually invent or discover something in this area.

Missive: What are some of the things you like to do with your friends? What do you all do to have fun together and cultivate a holy fellowship? That is, what healthy alternatives do you recommend to what the world offers?

Thomas recommends activities like Ultimate Frisbee as a way for young adults to connect with each other

TB: A few years ago, I started an Ultimate Frisbee group that plays every weekend over the summer. One thing I like about Ultimate is that the players don’t need to be experts to enjoy it, as long as the more advanced players keep an inclusive spirit. In my group, we have players of all ages and skill levels; 10-year-old kids, teens, young adults, parents, and our parish priests are often playing on the field at the same time. Although most of the players are from OLMC, I don’t limit the group to my parish; I have other friends in the nearby area who come occasionally as well.

I think parish groups that focus on a particular activity (like Ultimate) are a very good way for young adults to avoid the corruption of the world. Many of the people I’ve watched leave the Faith were influenced by a bad social environment, and a Catholic group with virtuous members can provide a lot of support to strengthen one’s faith.

Missive: Sometimes faithful young adults feel discouraged and alone because they find it hard to connect with other faithful people their age. What would you recommend to those who feel thus discouraged? How should young adults connect with each other and reach out to each other?

TB: I find that one of the easiest ways to get to know new people is by doing things together. So check and see what your parish offers – if there’s a young adult group, start by joining that. Also remember to keep other local parishes in mind. Look in their bulletins for events and maybe try attending some. If you can’t find anything relevant, consider talking to the pastor about starting a group. And whatever happens, always pray, since “all things work together for good for those who love God.”

September 16, 2017