Three decades after converting, he hasn’t slowed down

Three decades after converting, he hasn’t slowed down


Photo by James A. McBride


stewardship-webFather Dennis Bajkowski, pastor of Queen of the Apostles Parish, Pennsville, stands with Phil Britton.

PENNSVILLE — Before Phil Britton converted to Catholicism, he used to help out at Queen of the Apostles Church in various capacities such as bartending at various affairs and cleaning up.

“Pastor Felix O’Neal was the pastor at the time and he asked me if I ever considered becoming a Catholic,” Phil said, adding with a laugh, “That was the worst thing he ever said to me.”

Why? Because Phil asked many, many probing questions about the church and Msgr. O’Neal answered them all.

“He worked with me and took his time with me,” Phil said. “Those things that couldn’t be explained I took on faith.”

He used to be a Presbyterian and he said much of what the church believes is taught in the Presbyterian Church. Today converts participate in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Intiation of Adults), but 30 years ago, Phil said, “I went one-on-one with Msgr. O’Neal. “That’s how I was introduced to the Church.”

He married his wife Anne in 1973 at Immaculate Conception Church in Elkins, Md. “I went to Mass with her and continued going when we moved here.”

Phil retired as a chemist with Ciba Specialty in Newport, Del. He was with them for 14 years and was a chemist for 38.

For the past 25 years Phil and Anne have lived stewardship by being involved in Pre-Cana. Phil and Anne also helped with the diocesan marriage prep program as a registration couple. And Phil became a Eucharistic Minister.

Thirty years ago he started as a lector. He’s been doing it for so long that he now schedules lectors for each of the Masses at Queen of the Apostles.

“Msgr. O’Neal had said to me 30 years ago that I had confidence when I spoke so, why don’t you try to become a lector?” Phil said. “I listened to them for a while before I finally took the plunge and tried it for myself. I enjoy it very much.”

Phil has also worked with former pastor Msgr. Thomas Morgan and Sister Barbara Ann in setting up Bible study and small faith sharing groups.

Current pastor Father Dennis Bajkowski calls Phil “a remarkable man.”

“I work closely with Catholic Charities in helping to find the needy in the parish,” Phil noted. “We make food baskets for them. When I get the name of a family I contact various groups in the area to let them know that these people need help.” He also asks for donations of food in the church bulletin.

Phil noted that working with Catholic Charities led to his bereavement ministry where he helps widows and widowers dispose of excess furniture and other items belonging to their spouses.

“If someone needs a bed, for instance, I will handle the disposition of it,” he explained. “The grieving widow or widower often can’t handle these details. I’ll do it for them with compassion. In many instances they can’t bear to part with their deceased spouses’ belongings.”

As an off-shoot of the bereavement ministry is Phil’s elderly assistance ministry.

“It’s a spin-off,” he said. “We’ll often contact state departments to see what they can do for senior citizens, particularly those recently widowed. It really becomes an opportunity because seniors often don’t know what’s out there for them so we help to fill out forms and to see if they qualify for certain programs.

“Let’s face it, a lot of people who are elderly who were once middle class are no longer considered that because they’ve been spending their savings but they don’t realize there’s assistance out there for them. My stewardship is to try to help them,” Phil concluded.

For more information on stewardship contact Russell Davis, Office of Stewardship, at 856-583-6102.


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