God is Still Calling Men and Women — Thomas Burke

2001 News

Thomas Burke is the son of William Burke and Margaret Dvorsky Burke of Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor of science degree in communications from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Duquesne University. He is a 1988 graduate of Carrick High School. He earned a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2000. He is now a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

By Thomas Burke

Well, the time has come for priesthood ordination. After six years of studying, it is time to go to work.http://dev.saintvincentseminary.edu/external/editors/FCKeditor/editor/images/spacer.gifhttp://dev.saintvincentseminary.edu/external/editors/FCKeditor/editor/images/spacer.gif

I can still remember the first day I entered Saint Paul Seminary in August 1995 and how far away the year 2001 looked. There were so many ideas, questions and things running through my mind that day. What would seminary life be like? could I handle the schoolwork? What about finances? Would I ever make it to ordination?

How quickly time has gone by. The six years of formation in the seminary — two years at Saint Paul Seminary in Crafton and four years at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe — have been very rewarding. I grew a lot in those six years, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Besides learning theology in the classroom, I also have done various ministries that will help me in my priesthood such as pastoral care at Mercy and Latrobe hospital, prison ministry at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center and the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg and working with children who are autistic and have Down Syndrome at Clelian heights School in Greensburg.

I have gone on several mission trips with the Duquesne University Campus Ministry: one to West Virginia for Habitat for Humanity building homes for the less fortunate, and another trip to Immokolee, Fla., working with migrant farm workers. When I look at the pictures in my photo album, it seems just like yesterday that I was there.

The three years that I have spent at my assigned pastoral internship at Saint Ferdinand in Cranberry Township have really given me great hands-on training for the priesthood. Being with the people and living out the faith is so powerful. To see the parishioners’ excitement building up to ordination was amazing.

All of these years of studying and doing summer internships have finally come together. The journey toward priesthood has been completed, and now a new journey begins for the six newly ordained.

I hear too often that wanting to be a priest or a religious brother or sister is not the “cool thing to do” now. But I feel reassured that God is still calling men and women to serve the church.

There is hope in the future. There are men out there who are considering the priesthood and women pondering the religious life. They just need to be encouraged and supported by their families, friends, schoolmates, co-workers and their parish.

Vocations don’t just happen overnight. They start in the heart. It is wonderful “God still calls! With God, All things are possible!”

(Father Burke is parochial vicar at Saint Alphonsus Parish in Wexford.)