RINGWOOD, N.J. — Lawrence Burke, OFM, 92, a professed Franciscan friar for 72 years and a priest for 66, died Sept. 18 at Holy Name Friary.
A wake and wake service were offered on Sept. 22 at St. Anthony Church, Butler, N.J. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, served as principal celebrant and Jeremiah McGinley, OFM, offered the homily during the Mass of Christian Burial on Sept. 23. Lawrence is buried at God’s Acre in Ringwood.
Born on Oct. 27, 1920 to William and Anna Burke, Lawrence was baptized James Joseph at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Philadelphia, where he attended grammar school. He graduated from West Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1938 and then attended St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., for two years.
On Aug. 12, 1940, he was received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and given the name Lawrence. He professed first vows there one year later. Lawrence studied philosophy at St. Stephen’s Friary in Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J. He then studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, where he professed final vows on Sept. 17, 1944.
From 1944 to 1946, he attended the art school at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1947.
Following ordination, Lawrence taught at Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, N.Y., for eight years. While stationed there, he attended the Art Institute of Buffalo. He was then asked to serve as art director of Friar, a Franciscan magazine, a role he held while residing at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., from 1955 to 1961 and St. Anthony Friary in Butler from 1961 to 1976. In preparation for this assignment, he took classes at the Art Students League of New York from 1955 to 1963 and at the American Institute of Graphic Arts in New York City from 1954 to 1956.
During his time at Friar magazine, he submitted drawings to New Yorker magazine that were accepted for publication. While living in Paterson, he and fellow friars Hubert Woods, OFM, and Felician Foy, OFM, formed a singing group called “The Three Friars” that performed mostly at New Jersey parishes.
In 1976, Lawrence was appointed guardian of St. Anthony Friary in Butler, serving until 1986. For the next 23 years, he ministered as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood, who merged with the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia. Lawrence resided briefly at St. Anthony Friary in Butler before transferring to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood in 2010.
Lawrence is survived by his brother, Francis, and sisters, Sr. Mary Burke, IHM, and Catherine DeMunter of Manahawkin, N.J. Condolences may be sent to Mr. Francis Burke, Fox Hill Farm, 1022 North Phipps Wood Rd., Glen Mills PA 19342.
Memorial donations may be sent to: Franciscan Friars-Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York NY 10001.
— Compiled by Theresa Bartha