Father Bart Burke
Father Bart Burke is parish priest and pastor to four First Nations Reserves spanning northern Ontario and Manitoba, a far cry from his days of growing up on a small farm near Peterborough, Ontario.
Although he'll be embarrassed by this, Father Bart is to many of us the example of the good and humble service to our Lord and his people that all our missionaries embody.
Ordained 50 years ago in the Diocese of Peterborough, Father Bart initially served there, before moving east to Newfoundland and Labrador. He now serves in the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, journeying to his four missions there year round.
He quietly explains that there are no "special projects" there this year. But with no road access to the four reserves and up to 80 per cent unemployment, it's never easy for his community to make ends meet.
Goods are expensive; food, clothing and supplies must be flown in, except for six weeks when a winter road is available across the frozen lakes. Even Father Bart has to fly in to his mission communities.
Last year, it cost over $9,100 for Father Bart to visit his northern missions, and Catholic Missions In Canada is again this year supporting Father Bart in his sacred efforts there.
Father Bart once described for us his morning routine. "My regular breakfast," he wrote, "is a bowl of hot cereal and a cup of coffee. It is time for my hour of prayer, including the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. This hour of prayer gives direction and meaning to my day."