Fr. Michael Burke, SCJ, former provincial superior of the US Province, died February 9, 2017, in suburban Milwaukee. He was 79 years old and had suffered a heart attack earlier in the day.
Originally from Chicago, Fr. Mike professed his first vows in 1956. Just last year he and classmate Fr. John Czyzynski, SCJ, were honored for their 60th anniversary during the province jubilee celebrations in June. Fr. Mike studied at Kilroe Seminary, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology (then Sacred Heart Monastery), and at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Among his degrees was a master’s in Medieval History.
Ordained in 1963, his initial assignment was as a teacher at Sacred Heart Monastery. He then went into administration, first as superintendent of St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD, and in provincial administration serving as personnel director and as vice provincial.
Fr. Mike was elected as the ninth provincial superior of the US Province in 1983.
After completing his second term in 1989 he was named novice master for the international novitiate in Toronto. He continued in various formation and vocation roles until his retirement in 2009, though remained active with the Admissions Board through the end of last year.
Reflecting on his own vocation Fr. Mike said that it was important to him to belong to a congregation that is dedicated in a special way to the Sacred Heart, “promoting the love of God through service to his people,” he said.
“I wanted to be of service to others and serve through the Church,” he continued. “Fr. Dehon’s ‘prophets of love and servants of reconciliation’ fit my vocation. I was especially impressed with the SCJs’ emphasis on service to the poor and most needy in our world.
“I have appreciated and valued our shared life together as SCJs. I find in it a source of support and encouragement. While there are many different personalities and ministries in our community we all share and experience the love of God and we desire to share that experience with others. This is what binds us and supports us in our ministry.”
Fr. Mike was a member of the Sacred Heart Community at SHML in Franklin, Wis.