1912 – 1984 (December 10)
Thomas Ambrose Burke, son of Joseph Burke and Katherine Hess, was born in Albany, New York, on July 15, 1912. He was baptized by his cousin, William A. Jones, O.S.A., Bishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thomas attended primary and secondary schools at Cathedral Academy, Albany, and then entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., where he obtained a degree in electrical engineering in 1933. He worked as an engineer for several years, and then entered the Order at Staten Island, N.Y., in 1936. At the completion of his novitiate he professed simple vows on September 10, 1937, and solemn vows three years later. He studied theology at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1941, by John McNamara, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore. Thomas completed studies in physics at the Catholic University of America and earned an M.S. degree in 1942.
In June, 1942, Father Burke was assigned as professor to Villanova College, and in June, 1951, he was appointed registrar. In 1957 he was assigned to Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts, where he was appointed Dean of Engineering. At the Provincial Chapters of 1959 and 1962 he was elected definitor of the Province.
In 1965 Father Burke was assigned to Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, where he was appointed prior and rector of postulants. In 1968 he was assigned as prior of the community at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Church, Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1974, he was transferred as assistant pastor to Saint Augustine Church, Troy, New York, and in 1976 as assistant pastor at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, Staten Island.
In 1982 Father Burke retired to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, where he died suddenly on December 10, 1984, after having suffered a massive heart attack the previous day. Father Burke had a great capacity for telling entertaining stories on various subjects. He was a very warm and affable person, who endeared himself right away to many people. When he was assigned to Villanova and Merrimack, it was said that he knew all students on a first name basis.
Father Burke is buried in the Augustinian plot at Saint John Cemetery, Troy, New York.