“This came as a total surprise to me,” said Monsignor Michael J. Phillips, the retired pastor of Bay Ridge’s St. Anselm’s Roman Catholic Church. “I was just told to be on the steps of the rectory at 1PM today and was blessed with an outpouring of appreciation with a drive-by parade of my parishioners to celebrate the 60th anniversary of my ordination.”
Under the coordination of retired FDNY Captain Brian Gorman, Engine 242 from Bay Ridge and FDNY Engine 114 from Sunset Park kicked off the parade as the fire trucks made their way down 82nd Street with flashing lights and blaring sirens. Following the fire trucks, Dan and Anne Texeira who organized the day’s event, then drove the first car of a forty-seven-vehicle caravan to pass by the steps of St. Anselm’s Rectory to greet Monsignor Phillips.
After Monsignor Phillips’s May 28, 1960 ordination from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, his first assignment actually came just blocks away from St. Anselm’s at Our Lady of Angels Church from 1960 to 1968. Showing an interest in Catholic education, Monsignor Phillips was assigned to the Brooklyn Diocese Office (1969 – 1980) in the position of Assistant Superintend of Education. In addition to his educational duties, he also oversaw the implementation of the new Vatican II liturgy changes for all of Brooklyn’s parishes.
After serving at the Brooklyn Diocese for eleven years, Monsignor Phillips was appointed to his first pastoral position at St. Cecelia’s Church in Greenpoint in 1980 until his eventual transfer to St. Anselm’s in 1990. “Yes, this is really home for me now at St. Anselm’s,” said the Pastor Emeritus who retired from the parish’s administrative duties since his mandatory retirement in 2009.
“The last thirty years at St. Anselm’s have gone by so quick for me. Serving the people of the parish and seeing their children grow up to be successful has been a real gift to me,” said Monsignor Phillips who still continues to say mass and assists his fellow priests, Pastor Jack Maloney and Father Anthony from Nigeria.
“Having those fire trucks leading the parade really meant a lot to me,” said Monsignor Phillips whose father was a veteran firefighter who worked on a hook and ladder truck in Manhattan. “I know my dear father in heaven was looking down today enjoying this parade along with me.”