Monday, June 18, 2012

The passing of a friend

     Anyone familiar with the Benedictine Community at Saint Vincent will be saddened to hear of the death of Father Gilbert J. Burke, O.S.B.  Father Gilbert, who just celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination a few weeks ago, died on Sunday, June 17th, after an illness.  He attended Saint Vincent Prep (where I attended), entered the monastic community in 1955 and was ordained in 1962.  Father Gilbert served in so many ministries and roles of service that his obit goes on forever, but suffice it to say that those who knew him, through his diocesan assignments, the monastic community and through the Prep, College and Seminary, have lost a good friend.

     Two paragraphs from his obituary say it all:

"From his first appointment at Saint Vincent in the Office of Public Relations in 1960, Father Gilbert became the 'public face' of Saint Vincent to the local community and beyond.  Over the years, Father Gilbert touched the lives of thousands of people. He baptized more infants, witnessed more weddings, presided over more funerals, heard more confessions, and anointed more sick persons than any other Benedictine in recent years.

"His gentle manner and friendly smile along with a phenomenal memory for names, including middle initials, endeared him to students, alumni, parishioners, and people from every walk of life.  On the occasion of his 50th anniversary of ordination to the Priesthood in June of 2012, over 700 family members and friends gathered in the Saint Vincent Basilica to celebrate his life, his service to the church, and to society.

"On April 29, 2012, Father Gilbert was presented with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal, a papal honor, by the Most Rev. Lawrence E. Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg."

     Father Gilbert's funeral Mass will celebrated at 10:00 am on Friday, June 22 at the Basilica by Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, O.S.B.  May Father Gilbert enjoy his rest and peace.  He was a true gentleman and a really great guy.

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