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Philip and Bernadette White honored with St. Charles Lwanga Center’s lifetime achievement award

Philip and Bernadette White say that a supportive marriage is what allows them to share of their time, talent and treasure — with the Church and beyond.

Philip and Bernadette White, who attend St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist in St. Louis, are recipients of the Father Ed Feuerbacher Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Charles Lwanga Center.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Philip, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and Bernadette, retired from a long career in education, maintain an active life helping at their church, St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist in St. Louis, which recently reopened after repairs from storm damage in 2022. They also volunteer their time with a number of other organizations.

“Sometimes Philip is the face of the activity and I support him, and sometimes I’m the face of the activity and he supports me,” Bernadette said. That means sometimes the dishes don’t get done in a timely manner or a decision is made to go out to eat instead of cooking. Nevertheless, “we are able to do a lot because of the support of each other and the support of our children,” Dennis and Janna, she added.

The Whites were to have been honored on June 9 with the Father Ed Feuerbacher Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Charles Lwanga Center at its annual Testimonial Dinner and Celebration. The Whites were among several people honored at the annual event for their contributions in the community. The archdiocesan agency promotes spiritual formation and leadership development, including advocacy for justice and racial equity concerns among the Black Catholic community.

Philip and Bernadette grew up in St. Louis and got married at St. Alphonsus Liguori “Rock” Church in 1981. Following his graduation from De Andreis High School, Philip entered the U.S. Air Force, where he completed an undergraduate degree and was commissioned as a second lieutenant, later rising to the rank of captain.

Bernadette, a Sumner High School graduate, earned a degree in communication disorders from Saint Louis University. She also went on to earn a master’s degree in education, emphasis in counseling, and a doctorate in educational administration. Over the years, she’s worked as a reading specialist, special education teacher, school counselor and principal. Her last role before retirement was executive director of student services with the University City School District.

During Philip’s active military service, the Whites were active in Catholic parishes at each base. Since returning to St. Louis, they’ve called St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist their church home, where they’ve helped in roles including extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, parish council member, greeter and usher — and wherever else they’re needed.

Outside of the Church, Philip volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and with the VA Hospital and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, where he helped oversee the scholarship committee. Bernadette serves as president of the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and helps other organizations including Beyond Housing Women’s Leadership Network, St. Louis Public Library Foundation and the National Council of Negro Women.

Philip has enjoyed working with OASIS, an intergenerational tutoring program, and is planning to get involved once again with the reading program. “I’ve found that children are reluctant to do things because of the fear of being ostracized,” he said. “This gives the children a safe space.”

As the Whites eagerly anticipated the reopening of St. Elizabeth Church, Bernadette got busy helping organize volunteers as Masses resume. “We are both anxious about next Sunday as we will be back at St. Elizabeth and hopefully serving in our positions greeting and welcoming everyone,” she said. “We’re excited getting everyone back and organized to serve.”

There’s a saying that the Whites live by each day: “Our willingness to freely give shows our deep trust and dependency on God and acknowledges that He is the provider of all our needs.”

“That really sums us up,” Philip said. “Being retired from education and military, we have been blessed abundantly and we don’t mind sharing. It’s God’s will, and it’s what He’s calling us to do.”

Fr. Zinser
Father Robert Zinser also was to be honored with the Father Edward Feuerbacher Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Charles Lwanga Center.

A native of St. Louis, Father Zinser was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1968, at the Cathedral of Saint Louis by then-Archbishop John J. Carberry.

Over the years, he served at a number of parishes in the archdiocese, including in north St. Louis. His first assignment was Holy Cross Parish in Baden. Under the pastor, Msgr. Martin Hellriegel, Father Zinser extensively learned about fostering active participation in the liturgy.

In 1971, he was asked to serve as an associate pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in St. Louis under the leadership of Father Feuerbacher. Together with Sister Liz Peplow, they worked on an adult religious education program, which became known as the St. Charles Lwanga Center.

He went to Most Holy Rosary Parish in St. Louis in 1980 as an associate pastor. There, he assisted with its Vaughn Club for teens and was part of a team of adults working with the youth in the parish.

In 1983, he became a pastor for the first time at Visitation/Holy Ghost Parish in St. Louis, which beamed with active parishioners, liturgies and community projects.

Other parishes he has served at over the years include St. Sebastian in Glen Owen, St. George in Gardenville, St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverview Gardens, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie, St. Ann in Normandy, St. Teresa of Avila in St. Louis and Sacred Heart in Elsberry.

Father Zinser retired in 2018.

Parish and youth honorees

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Garnetta Thames, adult

St. Josephine Bakhita: Phyllis J. Allen, adult; and Kelvin Boyd, youth

Our Lady of the Holy Cross: Lynda Brand, adult

St. Augustine: Stacy Johnson, adult

St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist: Vivian Fox, adult; and Samuel Wynn, youth

St. Matthew the Apostle: Venus D. Spain, adult; and Carl Summers Jr., youth

Torch Bearer Honoree

Claver House

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