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Société des Missions Africaines - Province des Etats-Unis

BURKE Michael né le 24 janvier 1922 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
serment perpétuel le 15 juin 1945
prêtre le 15 juin 1946
décédé le 12 novembre 1991

1947-1948 Dedham (USA), séminaire
1948 paroisse Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Atlanta
1949-1953 aumônier dans l’Illinois (USA)
1953-1956 aumônier à Savannah (USA)
1956-1958 Tenafly, recruteur
1958-1964 Tenafly, animation missionnaire 
et vocationnalle
1964-1968 Tenafly, supérieur
1968-1973 Doylestown (USA), séminaire
1973-1978 Tenafly, conseiller provincial
1978-1979 Dedham (USA), séminaire
1980-1988 Tenafly, responsable des vocations
1983-1988 Tenafly, vice supérieur
1988-1991 Tenafly, retiré

décédé à Teaneck (NJ), Etats-Unis, le 12 novembre 1991
à l’âge de 69 ans


Father Michael Benedict BURKE (1822 - 1991)

Michael Benedict Burke was born in the cathedral parish of Cork City (the family address was at 32 Roman Street), Ireland, on January 24, 1922. He died at Holy Name hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA, on November 12, 1991.

One of two children born to Thomas and Mary (O’Flynn) Burke, Michael (Ben) attended St. Vincent’s school for his early education. He received his secondary education in the renowned CBS North Monastery School, graduating in June 1940. In September of the same year he joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Ben received his theological formation in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1942-1946. Admitted to membership of the Society on June 15, 1945, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on June 15, 1946. He was one of a group of fourteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Ben became a member of the American Province of the Society which had been founded five years earlier, in 1941, and was short of personnel. The Province had been formed from among Irish and Alsatian SMA.'s working in African-American parishes in Georgia, Illinois and Los Angeles. Frequent requests from the Generalate to the Irish Province for additional personnel to staff the new Society seminary at Dedham, some 15 miles from Boston, and other Society works, received a positive response. In July 1946 the Irish Province nominated nine members to go to America, including Ben. In the covering letter to the American Provincial, Anthony McAndrew, Ben was described as 'among the very best of this year's ordination class, and should be most suitable for the Boston college'.

During his first year in America Ben (1947-1948) was a staff member in the new seminary, named after the Queen of Apostles. This college functioned as a minor seminary, providing students with high school education, and also as a house of philosophy. SMA students took their theological course at Washington D.C. A year later Ben was assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes church, Atlanta, one of the many parishes for African-Americans maintained by the Society in the USA. This parish had been established in 1912 by Ignace Lissner, founder of the American Province, despite threats from the Klu Klux Klan and virulent anti-Catholic sects. Ben was also to teach in St. Mary's high school, East St. Louis, Illinois and at Pius X high school, Savannah Georgia (1953-1956). Both schools were situated in SMA parishes catering for African-Americans.

In 1956 Ben was appointed vocations director for the American Province, based in the Provincial headquarters at Tenafly, New Jersey. Two years later he joined the promotion staff of the Province, also based at Tenafly, where six years later he was appointed house superior. During his time as superior he was responsible for the erection of a new building in Tenafly which included a fine Chapel, Museum, Hall and Residence facilities. Between 1968-1973 Ben was attached to the staff of the Ave Maria seminary, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the Province’s novitiate which also served as a house of promotion. Next, from 1978, he served as councillor to the Provincial, residing at Tenafly. Ben returned to teach in Queen of Apostles seminary in 1978 and a year later took up the post of mission appeals director. Additionally he acted as assistant co-ordinator of promotion for the Province. During the last three years of his live Ben retired at Tenafly, suffering from a severe form of diabetes.

Ben was an extrovert with a great love for people, qualities which made him an excellent vocations director and promoter of the missions. He served as a chaplain to many local Catholic organisations. Keenly interested in sport, he entered the history of the Gaelic Athletics Association when during the All-Ireland Final between Kerry and Cavan, held in the New York Polo Grounds in 1947, he and his SMA colleague, James J. (Jimmy) Hickey, were the linesman for the epic encounter. Ben was equally at home in the classroom (he held a masters degree in education from St. Louis University conferred in 1953) and in the parish. He was an ideal companion and co-worker for Paddy O'Donoghue, the Provincial, at the time of the building of the new Provincialate in Tenafly and the new Queen of Apostles seminary in Washington. It was often said that Ben supplied the 'boldness' during the 1950's and 1960's, in extending the Province's fund-raising activities and expanding its horizons. During his last long illness, during which he suffered greatly, Ben showed great fortitude and faith, never losing his sense of humour or his love for company.

He is buried in the SMA Community Plot, at Mount Carmel cemetery, Tenafly, New Jersey, USA.