1927 – 2018 (September 20)
Robert Martin Burke was born on April 18, 1927, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Thomas A. Burke and Violet Marshall, and was baptized on February 25, 1934 in Saint James Church, Ventnor, New Jersey. He had one brother and two sisters. He attended Saint James Parochial School, Ventnor, from 1933 until 1941, and Holy Spirit High School, Atlantic City, from 1941 until 1945. He then entered the United States Navy and served fourteen months until 1946. Following his discharge from the service, he entered Villanova College and studied civil engineering for three years. In 1950, he applied to the Order and was received as a novice on September 9, 1950. Upon completion of his year at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, he professed vows on September 10, 1951, and returned to Villanova College where he completed his BS in Physics in June 1952. He then went to Augustinian College, Washington, DC, for theological studies. He professed solemn vows on September 10, 1954, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1955, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, by Bishop John McNamara. He earned an MS degree in Physics from the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, in 1954, and later completed a BS degree in Civil Engineering from Villanova University in 1959.
Father Burke’s first assignment was to Msgr. Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, where he taught from 1956 to 1959. He then taught at Villanova University until 1963 when he returned to Msgr. Bonner High School. In 1974, he was appointed Assistant Director of Admissions and professor at Villanova University. He was assigned to teach at Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania during the academic year, 1980-1981, and then to the Augustinian community of Casa San Lorenzo, Miami, Florida, where he worked in Admissions at Biscayne College. In 1988, Father Burke was appointed treasurer at Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery, Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts, where he worked also in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. From 1995 to 1996, while continuing his ministry at Merrimack College, he resided at Saint Augustine Parish, Lawrence, Massachusetts, and then returned to Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery, Merrimack. In 2003, Father Burke was assigned to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova. Despite multiple cancer surgeries, and a severe hearing impairment in his later years, he maintained a very positive attitude and friendly demeanor, and was an avid fan of Villanova and professional sports.
Father Burke passed away in the late afternoon of Thursday, September 20, 2018, at Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, having faithfully served in the educational apostolate of the Province for the entirety of his active ministry. He died at 91 years of age, in the 67th year of his religious profession and the 63rd of priesthood. His Funeral Mass was celebrated on Monday evening, September 24, 2018 in Saint Thomas of Villanova Church, Villanova, PA., by Father Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A., Prior Provincial. Father James Wenzel, O.S.A. preached the homily. Father Burke was buried the following morning in the Augustinian Plot of Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.