Father Baker's Steps to Sainthood Celebrated

February 20, 2011 Updated Feb 20, 2011 at 10:47 AM EDT

By John Borsa

February 20, 2011 Updated Feb 20, 2011 at 10:47 AM EDT

LACKAWANNA, NY (WKBW) -- The news came from the Vatican nearly several weeks ago, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is celebrating.

Father Nelson Baker, who died 75 years ago, has been elevated to Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI.

It's the first step to sainthood for the priest who served in Lackawanna and dedicated his life to helping children and the elderly.

"It's a wonderful day for us," Msgr. Paul Burkard, Pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish. "It's a day for the whole area of Buffalo and Western New York to rejoice."

This first step is just the beginning. Two miracles will need to be attributed to Father Baker. The first will make him eligible to beatification. The second, canonization or sainthood.

"People have been praying for this since 1987," said parishioner Joseph Zomeri. "It happened in our lifetime. So many people worked hard to get to this spot who are not here any longer. So I feel we're very fortunate to be able to come and enjoy this moment."