Jesuit Father Francis F. Burch, 81, passed away on Aug. 30, 2013, at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He was a Jesuit for 63 years and a priest for 50 years.
Fr. Burch, son of Thaddeus J. Burch and Frances F. Greenwell, was born in Baltimore on May 15, 1932. Following graduation from Loyola High School in Towson, Md., he entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pa., on July 30, 1950. There, he pronounced his First Vows on July 31, 1952, and then pursued juniorate (college) studies in the humanities from 1952 to 1954, before studying philosophy at Bellarmine College in Plattsburg, N.Y., from 1954 to 1955 and then at Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, N.Y., from 1955 to 1958, where he received a Licentiate in Philosophy in 1957 and a Master of Arts degree in English from Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1958.
As a Jesuit scholastic, Fr. Burch taught English, Latin and French at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., from 1957 to 1960 before being sent to pursue studies in theology from 1960 to 1964 at Woodstock College in Maryland where he was ordained to the priesthood by Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore, on June 16, 1963, and received a Licentiate in Theology in 1964. Fr. Burch completed his tertianship in Brongen, Belgium, from 1964 to 1965 and made his Final Profession in the Society of Jesus on Aug. 15, 1967, in Paris.
After completing his graduate studies for a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1967, Fr. Burch was assigned to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he was to remain for the rest of his Jesuit life from 1967 to 2013, a period of 46 years. During this time, he was professor of English (1967 to 2009) and also served on the board of directors of the university and as secretary of the board (1971 to 1976), assistant dean (1972 to 1974), professor of English in the graduate school (1974-1977) and scholar-in-residence at Millersville State College in Pennsylvania while on sabbatical (1977-1978). From 2009 to 2013, Fr. Burch held the position of professor emeritus at St. Joseph’s University.
During his years as professor of English at St. Joseph’s University until his death, Fr. Burch published numerous articles in scholarly works and was very instrumental, caring and successful in guiding and advising many of his fellow Jesuits in graduate studies in researching, writing and completing their doctoral dissertations.
He is survived by two brothers: Jesuit Father Thaddeus J. Burch of Marquette University in Milwaukee, and Thomas K. Burch of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.