We regret to announce the death of Fr Christy Burke C.S.Sp. He died on Saturday (23rd) in Nazareth House where, having moved from Kimmage, he resided since 2020. He was aged 83.
Born on 26th May 1937 to Mary-Ellen (née Fitzgerald) and Tom Burke of Kilmaley House, Kilmaley, Co. Clare. Christy attended Kilmaley N.S. and CBS Ennis. He entered Kilshane in 1955, at the age of 18, and was professed the following year. He then studied at UCD’s College of Science for 2 years, perfected in Rockwell College (1958-1959), and returned to Dublin where he finished his BSc (Maths and Physics) in 1960. He did 2 years of Philosophy in Kimmage, followed by 4 years of Theology studies in Fribourg and Rome. He would later do his doctorate on Libermann.
Ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Kimmage in 1965, one of 25 ordained that year. Fr Christy was appointed to Kenya and ministered in Mombasa and Nairobi. He served in secondary schools and seminaries; he was professor of Moral Theology for a decade in Nairobi’s St Thomas Aquinas Seminary. Honest with students, he was a sound and wise chaplain in the University of Nairobi where he also lectured in Philosophy. He did hospital chaplaincy and pastoral ministry, working for a time in a new mission in Mukuru slum (Nairobi), and was adviser to the Family Life Counselling Association. An innovative member of Kenya’s leadership team for 3 years, he helped pave the way – not least through the practice of well-minuted ‘occasional meetings’ – for the District to become the Foundation of Kenya.
Returning to Ireland, he served in Kimmage Parish (1991 – 1993) and taught in the Novitiate (Cypress Downs) and in Kimmage Mission Institute. He then spent a further 7 years in Kenya.
He began a period of just under a decade as Chaplain in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dún Laoghaire in 2000. A Libermann scholar, he gave reflections on the Spiritan founder; his 2010 book ‘’No Longer Slaves, The Mission of Francis Libermann’’ built on his doctoral thesis.
Fr Christy was reflective and polite encouraging and engaging with people while courageous and radical at the same time. Well-liked and a proud Clareman, he was always concerned for the underdog He bore the cross of his illness in recent years bravely and with grace.