Last Sunday, little Kaela Pointer, a 5-month-old girl, was baptized and celebrated by her church family, Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, the largest African-American Catholic parish in Philadelphia.
The Gospel of Matthew 28:19 documents the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Saint Cyprian is a great example of a church that fully embraces teaching the Word of God, baptizing and making disciples, and taking the Gospel of Christ abroad; Saint Cyprian is probably one of the most culturally versed/well traveled congregations throughout the world, having visited Egypt, Jerusalem, Italy, Greece, Spain, China and so many other international locations.
Rev. Msgr. Federico A. Britto is the endearing and beloved founding pastor of Saint Cyprian. Eleven years ago, he arrived to lead the transition of consolidating two Philadelphia parishes: Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saint Carthage — today, known as the Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, located on Cobbs Creek Parkway.
Britto has had several pastoral assignments during his 29 years as a priest, but Britto’s first pastoral assignment was shepherding the parish of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, in Philadelphia.
Commenting on the consolidation of the two churches, Britto shared that, “The people, at the time, came together and decided that a new vision was needed for this area, as far as their parishes were concerned.”
Saint Cyprian boasts a long list of ministries and organizations for members of the congregation to serve, including: Hospitality Committee, Helping Hands for the Hungry, Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, Marriage Preparation, Share the Faith (Door to Door Ministry), Men of Saint Cyprian and F.R.O.G.S. (Fully Relying On God). “If someone is looking for (a ministry to serve in), they can find it here,” said Britto.
Britto is a well-educated man, but is not lofty, he’s quite humble and extremely approachable. Britto earned his B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in Theology, and an M.S. in Strategic Leadership, from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, in Wynnewood, Pa. and he serves on the Boards of Neumann University, Mercy Catholic Medical Center and St. Ignatius Nursing Home.
“He has such a great sense of humor, (he’s) so friendly and he treats everybody the same,” said Carolyn Rice, 61, a member for eleven years, commenting about Britto and his personality. Rice is an entrenched member because the Saint Cyprian congregation is so “loving” and is very “family oriented.”
For John Odom, a member of 10 years, it’s real simple, he’s an entrenched member because, “I like how (members) come together to help others in need.” Odom, 61, serves as a driver, Pastoral Council member and in other ministry capacities.
James Spruill Jr., 45, has been a member of St. Carthage and Saint Cyprian for a combined 40 years.
What Sprull likes best is, “Saint Cyprian is a close knit community; we are all united in commonality of our faith.” A devoted husband to his wife, Kimberly, and a father of two young children, Spruill loves Saint Cyprian because of its family atmosphere.
“We know each other’s family, (and) we support and help each other,” he said.
Spruill serves on the finance committee, parish council and Men of Saint Cyprian ministries.
Every Sunday, Kia Gray, 36, and her family trek all the way from Collegeville, Pa., to fellowship and worship at Saint Cyprian.
“(We are) the largest Black Catholic congregation in Philadelphia and Monsignor Britto is very good for our church … he is constantly trying to work with our youth and seniors,” said Gray, who is the leader of the Young Adult ministry and she’s also a Lector at Saint Cyprian.
Gray is the mother of two girls, Kaela (the infant who was baptized on Sept. 25), and Kai, 14; her husband is Jerome Pointer. As the leader of the Young Adult Ministry, Kia involves the young adults in conducting community service initiatives and she exposes the young adults to guest speakers.
Geraldine “Geri” Fuller, 78, has been of member of Saint Carthage and Saint Cyprian for a combined 50 years.
“I am what is called a cradle Catholic,” she explained. “I was taught by Holy Family nuns,” during her childhood years in New Orleans, La.
Fuller is in charge of organizing the international trips that Saint Cyprian schedules for its congregation and the general public. Her ministry activism includes Legion of Mary, president of Women of Saint Cyprian and Extraordinary Ministry for Mercy Hospital.
Jean Smith, 72, a member for 10 years, made this comment about Britto, “He’s a very caring person, he has the best interest of people in mind.”
Smith enjoys helping organize the international trips that Saint Cyprian takes, the Gospel choir, the Women of Saint Cyprian and food pantry ministries.
Saint Cyprian is, “a very warm and welcoming church and we have a lot of activities (and ministries for people to participate in),” she said.
Smith is equally enthralled about her pastor, saying, “He’s very good with youth and seniors. I hope he never has to leave.”
Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church
525 S. Cobbs Creek Parkway
Philadelphia, Pa. 19143
Telephone: (215) 747-3250
Sunday Worship Services: 8 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Priest: Rev. Msgr. Federico A. Britto