Deacon Patrick Burke, Christ the King and St. Paul deacon and former pastoral administrator dies

North Texas Catholic
(Jun 14, 2024) Local

Courtesy photo

Karen Burke was only six years old when her father, Patrick Burke, was ordained a permanent deacon, but the memory of that ceremony inside St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is still vivid.

“The entire family was with us for the celebration,” she said, recalling the 1980 Ordination Mass. “He was only 33 and got a special dispensation to become a deacon because he was so young.”

After moving to Texas three years later, the Louisiana native watched her father tend to the needs of rural parishioners at Christ the King in Iowa Park and St. Paul in Electra with care and compassion. The role of deacon was a ministry he embraced for more than 31 years until failing health became an issue.

Suffering from complications of Huntington’s Disease, Patrick Joseph Burke Jr. died June 11 at home surrounded by his family. He was 76.

“Taking care of him these past few weeks brought back memories of my dad taking care of everyone else,” Burke explained. “I remember him getting ready in his clerics to go to the hospital or visit someone at home during their last few days. He often took Communion to people who couldn’t come to Mass.”

Witnessing how he served the Church and its people became the fabric of everyday life for the Burke family.

“I’d hear him get up really early on Sunday morning, and I knew that was dad getting ready for Church,” his daughter reminisced. “He did two services every Sunday. When he could no longer be there for parishioners because of declining health, he missed it.”

A Rosary and vigil service will begin at 6 pm, Friday, June 14 at Owen’s & Brumley Funeral Home in Wichita Falls. A Mass of Christian Burial is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15 at Christ the King Catholic Church, 1008 N. 1st Street, Iowa Park.

Born on October 1, 1947, Dcn. Burke was raised by his maternal great-grandparents, Patrick and Littie Lee Burke, in New Orleans. In 1965, he graduated from Redemptorist High School and, after a year of business school, joined the Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers where his formation took him to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

While in Clinton, Iowa, he met Linda Vogt and the couple married in August 1968. The newlywed worked for the City of New Orleans and later the Louisiana Department of Revenue before discerning a call to the diaconate. He was ordained a permanent deacon in 1980 at St. Louis Cathedral and served at St. Rosalie Parish, later helping establish a new parish, St. John Bosco, in Harvey, Louisiana.

In 1983, while attending Notre Dame University for continuing education, Dcn. Burke heard about a pastoral administrator position in the Diocese of Fort Worth under Bishop Joseph Delaney. He applied and was appointed pastoral administrator of Christ the King Parish in Iowa Park and St. Paul Parish in Electra. Under his leadership a new church for Christ the King Parish was built and dedicated in 1988.

“He loved those parishes and the people in those parishes,” said Deacon Don Warner, diocesan director of deacons.

One of the first pastoral administrators in the diocese, Dcn. Burke most likely applied for the job seeking a new challenge.

“He ran the day-to-day activities of the parishes, made arrangements for funerals or marriages, and would get priests to celebrate Mass on Sunday,” Dcn. Warner explained. “It was a unique challenge, and he did it for a long time.”

Deacon Jim Novak served as parochial administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Seymour and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Megargel and sometimes consulted with Dcn. Burke over the common issues they faced managing rural faith communities.

“Pat was a very intelligent, spiritual deacon who was well-respected in his parishes,” Dcn. Novak said, praising his colleague. “He had to find a sacramental minister to help with the celebration of the Mass and often turned to [the chaplains at] Sheppard Air Force Base or someone from the diocese he knew to help out on the weekends. But there were many Sunday services he did himself in the absence of a priest.”

The deacon called the death of his friend “a great loss to the diaconate,” adding, “I pray his soul is being rewarded in heaven.”

As the director of religious education at Christ the King Parish, Marilyn Putthoff worked closely with Dcn. Burke for 30 years. The veteran Catholic school teacher often came up with innovative projects to inspire youngsters.

“Deacon Pat always went along with my ideas,” she said. “We both felt that if you get the kids involved, the parents will come along too.”

Putthoff described the late deacon as a God-filled, caring man who always listened to the wants and needs of people.

“When I’d call to tell him I was worried about a parishioner, he would call or go over to see that person right away,” she added. “He went out of his way to help people. He was everything a deacon should be.”

In addition to his pastoral duties, Dcn. Burke was an enthusiastic traveler who led many pilgrimages to Europe, with Italy and Ireland as favorite destinations. A voracious reader and gifted homilist, he enjoyed books about history and religion as well as caring for his trio of dachshunds.

Dcn. Burke is survived by wife, Linda; son, Christopher of Wichita Falls; daughter, Karen Burke and grandchildren, Madeline Burke and Owen Hess of Orangevale, CA; brother, William Morris of Winter Park, Florida; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Carol and Frank Cincola, Sharon and Jim Pieczynski, Bill and Regina Vogt, Debra and Jim Pope, and David and Cheryl Vogt; and many cousins, numerous nieces and nephews, and many close friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

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