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Raymond Leo Burke Parents: Meet Thomas Burke, Marie Burke

Raymond Leo Burke, an esteemed prelate of the Catholic Church, traces his roots to Richland Center, Wisconsin, where he was born on June 30, 1948, into the loving embrace of Thomas F. and Marie B. Burke.

The youngest of six children, Burke’s early life and upbringing were shaped by the values instilled in him by his Irish heritage, with ancestors hailing from Cork and Tipperary.

His educational journey began at St. Mary’s Parish School in Richland Center, where he attended from 1954 to 1959. Such was his impact on the community that, in 2012, an addition to the school was dedicated in his honor and named the Raymond Cardinal Burke Annex. This early connection to his faith and community laid the foundation for Burke’s future endeavors.

The Burke family later moved to Stratford, Wisconsin, marking a significant chapter in Raymond’s formative years. The familial bonds and the values he imbibed in these early years would become guiding lights throughout his life.

As a young man filled with a sense of vocation, Burke’s journey towards priesthood unfolded at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he dedicated himself to spiritual and intellectual pursuits from 1962 to 1968. This period laid the groundwork for his future role as a prominent figure within the Catholic Church.

From 1968 to 1971, Burke continued his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., supported by a Basselin scholarship. During this time, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 and a Master of Arts degree in 1971, both in philosophy.

The pursuit of the priesthood led Burke to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he completed his studies between 1971 and 1975. During this transformative period, he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree and another Master of Arts degree. The culmination of these years of dedication occurred on June 29, 1975, when Pope Paul VI ordained Burke to the priesthood in the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica.