On Saturday, 19 July, 1958, as a young man of 25, Walter Anthony Burke was ordained to the priesthood at St Stephen’s Church in Skipton.
To recognise the Diamond Jubilee of this event, the Mass of “Our Lady, Mother of the Church” was concelebrated in the same church on Saturday, 21 July this year, and was attended by Fr Burke’s family, close friends and local parishioners.
Parish priest of St Stephen’s, Mgr Andrew Summersgill, was the chief celebrant, assisted by Mgr Desmond Sexton, Fr Andrew Brown, Fr David Peters, Fr Alec Barras and of course Fr Burke, who was invited to say a few words at the end of Mass. In characteristic style, he recalled the ‘glory days’ of Ushaw Seminary and bemoaned the current shortage of priests, while acknowledging the sacrifices made by his parents, and many others, to send their sons to train for the priesthood. He also paid tribute to the influence of Mgr Tindall and his encouragement along the journey to ordination.
A jolly and informal buffet reception was held in the Easter Room in St Stephen’s presbytery, where conversation and wine flowed in equal measure.
Fr Burke’s priestly journey began in the Leeds diocese, with curacies in Yeadon and Bradford. After a year in London, he returned north and served in Doncaster before becoming parish priest in Rotherham (during which time the diocese of Hallam was formed), High Green, Chesterfield and finally Hathersage and Bamford, from where he retired.
He continues to enjoy a happy life of prayer, treasuring, as he always has done, his devotion to the Rosary and the daily celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Fr Burke is pictured above with Mgr Summersgill at the end of his Jubilee Mass, and below with his sister, Norah, at the lunchtime reception.