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A Mother’s Blessing Serves Her Children Well

Shortly after Mother’s Day last year, Dr. Zach Baeseman ’05 sent us a moving letter in which he described a quiet walk across campus and celebrated his alma mater – his “nourishing mother,” to translate the ancient idiom from the Latin. His thoughts had been running on motherhood after a return visit to campus to teach at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay [MCW-Green Bay]. Baeseman, a physician, specializes in family medicine with obstetrics, so he himself serves as a blessing to new mothers every day.

This is Baeseman’s letter. Given its theme, we knew we’d have to hold it till the holiday came round again before we could share it with you now. Perhaps that was a blessing in itself. For, if ever there was a time we all needed a little maternal TLC, it is now. From St. Norbert College, blessings and love to all our mothers as we get ready to honor you this weekend.

St. Norbert College Community:

I recently had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater to teach basic life support in obstetrics (BLSO) to the MCW-GB medical students. Teaching basic life support and advanced life support in obstetrics are passions of mine, as is my career being a rural family physician and delivering obstetrical care to rural underserved populations in Wisconsin. My career is rooted in a passion for service, healing and academic curiosity – all fostered by my alma mater when I was an undergraduate at St. Norbert College.

I took a walking meditation across the beautiful St. Norbert campus after the day concluded to honor and reflect upon my alma mater and experiences therein.

I reflected upon the changes, growth and transformation the campus has made since my wife [Rebecca Thieme-Baeseman] and I both graduated in 2005. I reflected upon the changes, growth and transformation my family and I have made in that same time. Both are astounding and, in many ways, unrecognizable. Inspiring, nonetheless. I have dreamed of being able to teach and share my gifts at SNC many times and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

I concluded that my academic, humanistic and spiritual roots were planted at SNC and now bear much of the fruit in my life. Teaching the medical students on our campus was an incredible experience in sharing techniques and knowledge of my craft, which is literally life-saving in obstetrical emergencies. I am grateful to share my hard-earned knowledge from 16 years of higher education and five years of practice serving rural underserved Wisconsinites from birth to death. 

I stopped in front of the St. Norbert of Xanten statue on campus and expressed my gratitude for the gifts and opportunities I have been given with my roots being nurtured in a well-rounded Norbertine liberal arts education. I concluded that being able to share my passion for rural health and obstetrical safety with bright medical students at my undergrad alma mater – especially considering the serendipitous nature of my unexpected journey through both the SNC campus and vocational path – is indeed a blessing.

Later that evening, I read as much as I could about the life of St. Norbert of Xanten, as I have done before, in rigorous study attempting to know more about the saint who is patron to my alma mater. A most incredible and fascinating man of virtue, peace-making and reconciliation and – a most unexpected discovery in my study – St. Norbert of Xanten is also the patron saint of safe deliveries in childbirth. I was dumbfounded and inspired by the coincidence, alignment of intentions and capstone of discovery throughout the incredible day.

This interwoven story, my roots and the fabric of my vocation are inexplicably intertwined with St. Norbert College, and SNC still bears fruit in my life; the place where faith and reason intersect. My vocation was unknowingly blessed by St. Norbert of Xanten and in that I honor nurturing mothers and my alma mater as healer, teacher and perpetual student of the mysteries of life.

Happy Mother’s Day, St. Norbert College. Please accept my humble gratitude in service.

Zachary J. Baeseman, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.F.P.

We dedicate this page to Zach’s mother, Joanie Baeseman (1939-2010). Zach says, “It was an easy connection mentally to take the leap from my own nourishing mother to my alma mater. My mother was a big part of my day’s reflection and gratitude.” Mrs. Baeseman died two months after Zach graduated medical school, two weeks into his intern year working as a newly minted resident physician. This summer marks a decade, he notes. "Her battle for health and her fervor for her Catholic faith and children are much the origin of how I landed in my vocation in medicine."

May 8, 2020