Biographies

Father Lawrence J. Burns, MM

Born: September 19, 1919
Ordained: June 9, 1946
Died: October 27, 1999

Father Lawrence Burns died at Melrose Wakefield Hospital in Wakefield, Massachusetts on the evening of October 27, 1999. He was 80 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 53 years.

Lawrence Burns was born September 19, 1919, in Wakefield, Massachusetts, one of four children born to Matthew and Julia Boland Burns. He was baptized at St. Joseph’s Parish in Wakefield and received his grade school education at the Lincoln School in Wakefield, being one of the few public school boys to become an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Parish. This certainly had a great influence on his future vocation because the Pastor, Father Halloran, was a very dear friend of Bishop James A. Walsh. Father Halloran encouraged him to think about a vocation to Maryknoll.

After graduation from Wakefield High in 1937, Lawrence sent in his application to Maryknoll; was accepted and entered Venard Apostolic College in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania in September. After spending four years there, he went to Bedford for a year novitiate and then four years of Theology at Maryknoll, New York. Father Burns was ordained on June 9, 1946 together with 14 of his classmates by Bishop James B. Walsh, Superior General of Maryknoll.

After ordination, Father Burns was assigned to Bolivia where his first mission assignment was to Villa Victoria, La Paz, Bolivia. After a year and a half, this mission was closed and in April of 1948, he was assigned as pastor of the National Shrine of Cotoca in Santa Cruz. He was there only a little over a year when he received an assignment to the Pando Vicariate.

The next four years were spent on the river pastorate visiting settlements on the River Madre De Dios. After returning from furlough, he was assigned as pastor of the parish of Cobija on the border of Brazil where he spent the next six years. Father Burns then went back on the rivers for three years until 1963 when he was assigned to Riberalta as Vicar General of the Vicariate, where he was in charge of the mission while Bishop Collins was at the Vatican Council and on sick leave in the United States. In 1966, Bishop Collins resigned as Vicar Apostolic because of his health and in 1967 Father Burns was appointed by Rome as the Administrator Apostolic of the Vicariate, with the title of Monsignor. He continued in this position until 1976 when he resigned and returned to the United States.

Father Burns’ next assignment was to Development work in New Jersey and Long Island, New York, where he spent the next six years. In 1984, he was assigned to Hawaii and named pastor of the parish of Pahoa on the Big Island. In 1989, he returned to the United States and joined the Special Society Unit in June. However, for the next six years he worked on Development at the Chestnut Hill House in Massachusetts. During this time, Father Burns was a frequent visitor to the members residing at, as he called it, “St. Teresa’s Mission.”In September 1995, he became a curate at his home parish of St. Joseph in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

Wake services were held at St. Joseph’s Church in Wakefield, Massachusetts on November 1, 1999 and a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Joseph’s on November 2, 1999. Wake services were also held at 7:00 p.m. on November 2, 1999 at St. Teresa’s, and at 7:30 p.m. at Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Gerald Nagle officiated. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated at Queen of Apostles Chapel on November 3, 1999 at 11:00 a.m. Father Gorden Fritz was Principal Celebrant and Father Leo Shea homilist. Burial followed at Maryknoll Center Cemetery with Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick conducting the graveside service.