Joseph J. Burns, O.S.A.

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1908 – 1973 (November 9)

Joseph John Burns, the son of James Burns and Jennie Meehan, was born in Philadelphia on May 27, 1908. After completing his initial education at St. Coleman Parochial School and West Catholic High School, he entered the Order in 1926, professed his first vows on September 10, 1929, and graduated from Villanova College in 1933. He then studied theology at Augustinian College in Washington, DC, and received his Master’s degree in Education from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1936, at Washington’s National Shrine by Michael Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore.

In 1937 Father Burns was assigned as professor and disciplinarian at Saint Rita High School, Chicago. He remained in the Chicago Province teaching also in Rockford, Illinois. In 1950 he was assigned to Villanova University. He received an honorary Doctorate in Education from Duquesne University in 1961.

From 1958 to 1965 he served the Province as provincial treasurer. Father Burns died suddenly at the age of 65 on November 9, 1973, His Funeral Mass was  celebrated by Father Harry Cassel, Prior Provincial. Father Louis Rongione was homilist. Father Burns was buried in the community cemetery at St. Mary’s Hall, Villanova. His body was later removed to the Augustinian Plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken. 

Father Burns’ role as professor and counselor was profound, and he was recognized by being awarded the Lindback Award for teaching excellence in 1972. In his homily, Father Rongione quoted a student who said of Father Burns, “He made us think …. because of him I changed my whole way of living.” Father was a man of great humility, always aware of his limitations. He lived a frugal life, with no luxuries, but with great generosity toward others.