LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WKBW) - The last original WNY member of the "Father Baker Boys" was laid to rest today after a mass of Christian burial at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. John Phillips, 95, started life as an orphan and was one of the few remaining people who had direct contact with Father Nelson Baker while being raised at the OLV Infant Home in the 1920's.
Phillips received full military honors for his service with both the Army and Navy in WWII.
Father Baker's home for orphans and unwed mothers helped countless numbers of children in the 20th Century.
Young men who grew up there were proudly known as "Father Baker Boys" and they remained very thankful and devoted to the beloved priest.
An effort to have Father Baker declared a saint continues with more meetings on the issue hopefully taking place at the Vatican this summer, said Monsignor Paul Burkard, pastor at the OLV Basilica.
After growing up in Fr. Baker's orphanage, John Phillips served in both the U.S. Army and Navy during World War II. His family said Phillips witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while he was stationed on a ship just offshore.
After the war, Phillips lived his life in the spirit of Fr. Baker, raising five children, converting a old church into a home, and returning every July to place a wreath at the tomb of Fr. Baker with other Father Baker Boys.
When Fr. Baker's body was moved to a tomb inside OLV Basilica in 1999, John Philips was one of those who served as pallbearer.
His family told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that Phillips had hoped to live long enough to see Fr. Baker declared a saint. However, Phillips had no doubt that it will eventually happen.
Phillips' burial included full military honors at Holy Cross Cemetery, next to OLV Basilica, and was provided by an U.S Army Honor Guard.
While John Phillips was the last original Father Baker Boy in WNY, there is still one other left who is living on the West Coast.
Ed Reilly has more in his report.
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