Obituary: Archbishop Lawrence Burke, SJ formerly of Kingston, Jamaica

He was the fourth metropolitan archbishop of Kingston in his native Jamaica, a member of the Jesuits’ New England province and the third native son to head the island nation’s principal see. Archbishop Lawrence Burke died in Jamaica on Jan. 24 following a long and courageous struggle with cancer.

The archbishop had many connections in the Boston and New England area among Jesuits, Jamaican immigrants and friends he made over the years. Raised in Jamaica he was one of the many native vocations spurred on by the apostolic activity of the Jesuits who conducted parishes, schools and colleges in the Caribbean country. One of the stars in the constellation of the late Archbishop John McEleheny, SJ, a Woburn native, Lawrence Burke was born in Jamaica on Oct. 27, 1932 and ordained to the priesthood on June 16, 1964.

Following a series of assignments in Jamaica he was ordained the second bishop of Nassau in the Bahamas on Oct. 11, 1981. When the diocese was made a metropolitan see on June 22, 1999 he became its first archbishop. A little less than five years later he was named archbishop of his native Kingston in Jamaica on June 29, 2004. He succeeded another native Jamaican, Archbishop Edgerton R. Clarke, an alumnus of St. John’s Seminary, who celebrated his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination on Feb. 2. On June 29, 2004, he received his second pallium at the same celebration at which Cardinal O’Malley received his first. The two had worked together when the cardinal was bishop in the Virgin Islands and collaborated frequently with members of the Antilles Episcopal Conference.

Archbishop Burke’s Funeral Mass was celebrated at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston on Feb. 4.