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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

062217 burkeFOREST CITY — Catholics surfing the internet may have come across Father Herbert Burke, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church. He has a YouTube channel and his eight published books are available online. Father Burke is also an Air Force veteran who celebrates 25 years of priesthood this month.

A graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary Emmitsburg, Md., Father Burke was ordained in June 1992 by Cardinal James Hickey at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Father Burke was assigned to Immaculate Conception in Forest City in July 2001. When he arrived, the parish campus consisted of four acres. After his arrival, the parish purchased four plots of adjacent property with a total acreage of 30 acres. But the parish didn’t stop there.

In 2010, a stone Gothic 650-seat church was built adjacent to the old church. He spearheaded the $4 million project, greatly influencing the design with the architects. The church is filled with inspiring artwork and custom-wrought stained glass windows. Father Burke sought to make the church as beautiful as possible, saying, “The beauty of the church will lead people to the beauty of the faith… Nobody wants to go to an ugly church on Sunday.”

Since his arrival at the parish, the congregation has more than tripled in size, especially the Latino community. Spiritual activities have increased greatly with an emphasis on Eucharistic Adoration.

In 2015, Father Burke was appointed by Bishop Peter Jugis as vicar forane for the Gastonia Vicariate.

When asked what he enjoys most about his priestly ministry, Father Burke says, “I enjoy watching God in action in my life and in others’ lives, whether I am His direct instrument in bringing positive change to people’s lives or whether I am peripheral.”

Some of the biggest lessons he has learned in his 25 years of priestly ministry are that “it is important to always remember that your emotional support comes primarily from your family and your priest friends; it should never come primarily from the laity.”

Priests are there to support the laity, he stresses. “It doesn’t mean that they can’t give you some degree of support, but it is always important to maintain that professional boundary. Even if you are over a parishioner’s house for dinner you are at work for God.”

Father Burke also believes it is important for priests to use all resources at their disposal to strengthen their parishioners.

“It is important not just to try to help the weak ones, but the strong ones as well,” he explains. “I believe if you make the strong ones stronger, they will help you strengthen the weaker ones through their spiritual fellowship.”

He maintains a strong devotion to the rosary and the Miraculous Medal. He has given his personal witness talk at parishes and schools in many different states, and has given out more than 20,000 Miraculous Medals and finger rosaries with his talks.

He has eight published books with Queenship Publishing (www.queenship.org). His first book, “A Scriptural Catechism,” has sold almost 30,000 copies. His second bestselling book, “The Rosary is the Answer,” is carried by EWTN.

He encourages priests not to be afraid to “innovate and develop new tools that may not be available for you already. That is why I wrote my own catechism which has sold almost 30,000 copies already, because I felt that the ones that were available did not contain enough apologetics.”

Father Burke’s most recent venture is a YouTube channel called “Father Burke,” with his two most popular talks: “The Rosary, the Bible, and the Eucharist” and “If God is good why does He allow evil?” He says he developed the channel to reach people who are not big readers.

His advice for men discerning the priesthood? “Make sure that our Eucharistic Lord is your best friend through daily Adoration as much as possible and Our Lady is your second-best friend through the daily rosary.”

— SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter. Immaculate Conception Parish contributed.Published author, Air Force veteran Father Burke marks 25th anniversary
FOREST CITY — Catholics surfing the internet may have come across Father Herbert Burke, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church. He has a YouTube channel and his eight published books are available online. Father Burke is also an Air Force veteran who celebrates 25 years of priesthood this month.

A graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary Emmitsburg, Md., Father Burke was ordained in June 1992 by Cardinal James Hickey at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Father Burke was assigned to Immaculate Conception in Forest City in July 2001. When he arrived, the parish campus consisted of four acres. After his arrival, the parish purchased four plots of adjacent property with a total acreage of 30 acres. But the parish didn’t stop there.

In 2010, a stone Gothic 650-seat church was built adjacent to the old church. He spearheaded the $4 million project, greatly influencing the design with the architects. The church is filled with inspiring artwork and custom-wrought stained glass windows. Father Burke sought to make the church as beautiful as possible, saying, “The beauty of the church will lead people to the beauty of the faith… Nobody wants to go to an ugly church on Sunday.”

Since his arrival at the parish, the congregation has more than tripled in size, especially the Latino community. Spiritual activities have increased greatly with an emphasis on Eucharistic Adoration.

In 2015, Father Burke was appointed by Bishop Peter Jugis as vicar forane for the Gastonia Vicariate.

When asked what he enjoys most about his priestly ministry, Father Burke says, “I enjoy watching God in action in my life and in others’ lives, whether I am His direct instrument in bringing positive change to people’s lives or whether I am peripheral.”

Some of the biggest lessons he has learned in his 25 years of priestly ministry are that “it is important to always remember that your emotional support comes primarily from your family and your priest friends; it should never come primarily from the laity.”

Priests are there to support the laity, he stresses. “It doesn’t mean that they can’t give you some degree of support, but it is always important to maintain that professional boundary. Even if you are over a parishioner’s house for dinner you are at work for God.”

Father Burke also believes it is important for priests to use all resources at their disposal to strengthen their parishioners.

“It is important not just to try to help the weak ones, but the strong ones as well,” he explains. “I believe if you make the strong ones stronger, they will help you strengthen the weaker ones through their spiritual fellowship.”

He maintains a strong devotion to the rosary and the Miraculous Medal. He has given his personal witness talk at parishes and schools in many different states, and has given out more than 20,000 Miraculous Medals and finger rosaries with his talks.

He has eight published books with Queenship Publishing (www.queenship.org). His first book, “A Scriptural Catechism,” has sold almost 30,000 copies. His second bestselling book, “The Rosary is the Answer,” is carried by EWTN.

He encourages priests not to be afraid to “innovate and develop new tools that may not be available for you already. That is why I wrote my own catechism which has sold almost 30,000 copies already, because I felt that the ones that were available did not contain enough apologetics.”

Father Burke’s most recent venture is a YouTube channel called “Father Burke,” with his two most popular talks: “The Rosary, the Bible, and the Eucharist” and “If God is good why does He allow evil?” He says he developed the channel to reach people who are not big readers.

His advice for men discerning the priesthood? “Make sure that our Eucharistic Lord is your best friend through daily Adoration as much as possible and Our Lady is your second-best friend through the daily rosary.”

— SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter. Immaculate Conception Parish contributed.