Elias Baier: “The Virgin Mary saved me from a virtual life”

“How faith and the encounter with the Virgin Mary changed my life”

Elias Baier is a young religious, seminarian of the Work of Jesus High Priest, an international missionary community. He arrived in Rome in 2020 to begin his priestly formation thanks to the help of the CARF Foundation. During his adolescence he found himself involved in the dangerous virtual world, abandoning studies and friends. But the scouts and the Virgin saved him from that imaginary life.

His testimony is especially addressed to young people: “If you are young, and you are reading my testimony, it can be a great start for you, when you have difficulty praying the rosary, simply pray three Hail Marys a day.”

He owes his faith to his parents

Elias is the oldest of four brothers. He was born on April 25, 2001, in Friedberg, Germany, but has always lived in Mering, a small town in Bavaria. His parents grew up on farms in small towns, in very Catholic families, and he owes his faith to them. “I liked family life, the simple life, going to school… I did quite well at school, especially in mathematics, but in any case, I didn’t like studying at all,” adds the religious.

His life changed with the scouts

His life took a turn when he began to join the Boy Scouts, because “without them, I’m sure he wouldn’t be in the seminary today.”

In the weekly meetings with this group they played, recreated plays, learned interesting things, made crafts with wood and rope, etc. But the star activity was the summer camps, two weeks enjoying nature in a European city. «We cooked on the bonfires and had a great time. A priest always accompanied us, so we had daily mass, rosary and catechism. My best friends have been those I met in the Scouts. “I will be eternally grateful for those years, for all the experiences that made me who I am now,” he confesses.

Elías Baier, locked in the virtual world

When Elias Baier started high school, his life took another turn and things got worse. «I started to have worse and worse grades and in the end I no longer studied at home. If at first I continued to devour tons of books, especially adventure books, now I spent my time in front of the computer. This made me increasingly incapable of having good relationships until, at the age of 16, I felt quite alone, hiding more and more in the virtual world », he admits openly.

But again, the Scouts saved him from that dangerous slope. A two-week trip to Rome, enjoying the sprawling hills, mountain walks into the city (despite the heat), and glimpses of the Vatican, were the lifeline Baier needed at the time. There they were consecrated to the Virgin in the church of Santa María la Mayor, the mother church of all Marian churches.

«In this consecration, we promised to try to pray at least one mystery of the rosary every day. I really wanted to take it seriously. In the end, the first week, after the camp, I didn’t even pray a mystery a day… Maybe you know those good resolutions that are made during retreats, but when you return home you fail horribly. I want to encourage you, especially young people, to try anyway, because my story does not end here, Elias shares with the CARF Foundation.

A very special grace of the Virgin

Two weeks after the camp, the Virgin granted him a very special grace: he was able to pray an entire rosary a day, and for a girl he had just met!

Elias Baier thinks and asks us to think that “if you are young, and you are reading my testimony, it can be a great start for you. When you have difficulty praying the rosary, simply pray three Hail Marys a day for your future wife or husband (stop reading for a moment and think of an appropriate time in your daily routine).”

Let’s go back to his conversion story. The Virgin took this consecration very seriously, and he began to transform his entire life. In the following months, a large group of friends was born, and, at that time, it was crucial for him to have Catholic friends. “I am sure that without them, I would not be in the seminary now,” he insists.

This change was impressive because the Virgin and the rosary helped him abandon computer games, and instead he began doing parkour – a sport that consists of overcoming obstacles as quickly as possible, usually in cities -, he became interested in photography and returned to read.

The gift of adoration and the vocation of priest

In his parish they then opened an adoration chapel. «I began to visit Jesus frequently, because in his presence I knew I was truly accepted, loved and forgiven. “Over time, I discovered that only by putting Him first in my life could I live an existence that mattered.”

This decision led him to attend Mass during the week, in addition to continuing to pray the rosary. At that time, he wanted to get married, but little by little God put in his heart the idea that perhaps he could be a priest. «He gave Me the grace to trust that whatever He wanted for my life would make me happy, because He, like a good Father, wanted me to be happy. He also gave me the certainty that he would show me his will at the right time.

Traveling through the USA

In 2019, he finished high school and still didn’t really know what to do with his life. He decided to take a year off to explore the world. With the Boy Scouts they undertook a five-week trip through the United States: hiking and hitchhiking through Vancouver, Canada, Los Angeles… a very valuable experience, in which they got to know the country and its people in depth uniquely.

Elias Baier funny says that once we arrived at ten at night to a small town on the coast. All the stores were closed, except for an ice cream parlor that a man was cleaning. When we asked him if he knew anywhere to spend the night, he offered us the chance to sleep in the ice cream shop and told us we could eat as much as we wanted. You can imagine that we didn’t think twice… We met very kind and welcoming people despite being just strangers.

Exploring the world, he finally made his decision

During his sabbatical year, he also worked as a tinsmith in Uruguay, in a mission of the community of which he is now a part: Work of Jesus High Priest. And they were the most beautiful weeks of his life, even though he could only communicate with people with his hands, a few words in English and a little Spanish that they taught him. But they immediately made him feel at home.

«I made good friends with some of the young people. I was impressed by his example of authentic Christian living. Of the joy they spread, of his simplicity, of his fidelity to going to Mass every day. I spent a lot of time in prayer and, after the first few weeks, God gave me clarity about my vocation to be a priest. All the reasons against the priesthood disappeared, and the desire to live only for God and for everyone to enter Heaven remained.

Back home, a few months later, at a retreat, he decided to do a year of discernment in the Work of Jesus High Priest community because, in addition, with his family they always went to the family gatherings organized by this community. “By getting to know it better in Uruguay, I really liked the way of doing mission, the family spirit and the spirituality of intimate love for Mary and the Eucharist.”

The road of dreams by Elías Baier

The summer before entering the seminary, he embarked on one last adventure. There is a 600 kilometer route called the road of dreams, from Munich to Venice, that he wanted to do. Without much preparation, he set off, most of the time accompanied by a friend. It was June and there was still a lot of snow in the mountains. They slept outdoors in the forest and cooked on a small gas stove.

«During this adventure, I experienced the providence of God. Once, for example, it was the most intense day of the trip, we had already been walking for twelve hours and it was getting dark. We were still on the ridge of the mountain, and it also started to rain. We prayed to find a roof because we only had a tarp and our feet were already completely wet. There was a cabin indicated on the map, and not too far away, down a hill surrounded by a meadow. We expected to find it open, but it was obviously closed and there wasn’t even an awning to protect us. But then we saw a small chapel about a hundred meters away, which turned out to be just a room with a cross. We decided to spend the night there. Five minutes after taking our things there, there was such a dense fog outside that we could no longer see the cabin. The next morning, the entire surrounding meadow was flooded because it rained a lot. Staying out would have meant waking up in a lake. Heavenly Father takes care of his children!

And finally, Rome!

In September 2020, he entered the pre-seminary of the Work of Jesus the High Priest, located on the outskirts of Rome. After a few months, he already knew that he wanted to stay. In the seminary there are eight different nationalities, from three continents, and he is very grateful to live with such incredible brothers.

«After two years, I began my studies in Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and I am very grateful for what I can learn here every day. I do not regret a single day of this path of formation to be a priest. God has always given me what I needed. Obviously, there are difficult moments, but suddenly God takes you back and fills your heart with his love. Finally, I want to thank María for bringing me here, where I am now; who has always guided me, who is always close to me and to all of you, dear friends and benefactors of the CARF Foundation, who have done so much and do so much so that young people like me can be trained to be good and holy priests,” he concludes happily, and grateful Elías Baier.