1911 – 1980 (September 16)
Leo Joseph Burke was born March 24, 1911, in, Hoosick Falls, New York, to Thomas J. Burke and Catherine McGuire. He was baptized there on April 5, 1911, at Immaculate Conception Church, and was confirmed on June 7, 1920, at the same church. Leo received his elementary and secondary education at St. Mary Academy, Hoosick Falls. Upon graduation from high school in 1928, he entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, N.Y., where he did a year of post-graduate studies. He was received into the novitiate on September 10, 1929, and professed simple vows on September 11, 1930 and solemn vows on September 11, 1933. Leo earned a B. A. in Philosophy from Villanova University in 1934, and pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., from 1934 to 1938, and advanced studies in Physics at Catholic University of America, Washington, and at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1937.
Father Burke was assigned in 1938 to teach at St. Thomas High School, Rockford, Illinois. He taught at St. Monica Minor Seminary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, from 1943 to 1949, and when the minor seminary program was relocated to St. Augustine Seminary, Holland, Michigan, he taught there as well until 1953. He also served on the Province Council from 1950 to 1953. In 1953 he was assigned to Austin Catholic High School, Detroit, Michigan, where he remained until 1968. He was prior of the local community there from 1953 to 1956 and again from 1965 to 1968. In addition, he was a member of the Province Council from 1956 until 1965.
In 1968 Father Burke was elected Prior Provincial of the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, with residence at the provincialate in Evanston, Illinois. Upon completing his term of office in 1971, Father Burke returned to Austin Catholic High School, Detroit, where he served another term as prior. In 1978 he relocated to St. Augustine Parish, Detroit.
Father Burke died on September 16, 1980, at Our Lady of Hope Residence, Colonie, New York, after a short illness. He is buried in the Augustinian plot at St. Mary Cemetery, Hoosick Falls, New York.
Father Burke was a compassionate man, and an excellent teacher who motivated his students to attain the high degree of excellence that he expected of them. During his term as Prior Provincial, many of the changes mandated by the new Constitutions of the Order approved at the 1968 General Chapter were implemented under his leadership.