Roman Catholic

Archdiocese of Kingston















Archbishop Lawrence A. Burke, S.J. was born in Kingston, Jamaica on October 27, 1932, the son of Herbert and Mary (nee Bennett) Burke.  He had one brother and four sisters.  His older brother, Herbert Jr., and his sister, Mrs. Sheila Bissessar are deceased.  His sisters, Marjorie, Mrs. Cynthia Stewart and Barbara reside in Ontario, Canada.

A graduate of St. George’s College, Kingston, Archbishop Burke entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1951 at Lenox, Massachusetts.  He received the following degrees:

-       B.A. in Philosophy from Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, in 1957

-       M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College, in 1958

-       Ph.L. (Licentiate in Philosophy) from Weston College, Weston, MA, in 1958

-       M.A. in Theology from Boston College in 1965

-       S.T.L. (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) from Weston College in 1965

-       M.A.L.S. (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., in 1970.

Archbishop Burke was ordained a priest on June 16, 1964 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kingston, Jamaica.  As a Jesuit Scholastic, he taught at St. George’s College from 1958 to 1961 and as a priest from 1966 until 1969, when he was named Rector of St. George’s College by Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.   In 1973 he was appointed Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Jamaica, the first and only Jamaican to be appointed to that post, which he held until 1979.  He returned to St. George’s College in 1980 as Acting Principal.

Archbishop Burke is well known for his service in the field of Education.  He served as Chairman of the Board of both St. George’s College and Campion College and as a member of the Archdiocesan Education Board and the Jamaica Catholic Board of Education.  He was also a member of the Adoption Board of Jamaica.  While he was Regional Superior, Archbishop Burke was elected Chairman of the Conference of Major Superiors of the Antilles and was instrumental in establishing the Jamaica Center for Religious Development.

He was appointed Bishop of Nassau, Bahamas by the Holy Father, John Paul II, on July 17, 1981, and was ordained Second Bishop of that Diocese on October 11, 1981.  On June 22, 1999, Pope John Paul II named Archbishop Burke the first Archbishop of the newly erected Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas and at the same time he became the Metropolitan of the Province of Nassau to which belong the Suffragan Sees of the Diocese of Hamilton in Bermuda and the Mission of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

As shepherd of the local church in the Bahamas, Archbishop Burke emphasized the active participation of the laity in the Church and Society.  He enabled and encouraged a number of religious, educational and social initiatives, among which are:  Stewardship as a Way of Life, The Samaritan Ministry for persons with HIV/AIDS, a  program for young men called YEAST, a program for men who batter women and  family members, several other programs to enhance Family Life, as well as parish and archdiocesan based programs for youth and young adults.   The R.C.I.A. was also required as the ordinary way of preparing and accepting converts to the Faith.  Archbishop Burke also initiated an Archdiocesan Annual Appeal and an annual Lenten Mission.

In addition to his efforts to build a committed community of faith, Archbishop Burke also oversaw the physical expansion of the Church with many new and renovated buildings.  Schools were built or expanded in Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence.  New Churches were built in Bimini, Abaco, San Salvador and Long Island.  Buildings in Nassau include a new Chancery building, Emmaus Center, Loyola Hall, two renovated and three new Churches, a new Church Hall and a new Cathedral dedicated on March 31, 2004.

When Archbishop Burke was responsible for the Mission of the Turks and Caicos Islands, he built the rectory and the hall that has served as the Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence in Providenciales as well as the Church of the Holy Cross in the Grand Turk.

Archbishop Burke serves on several Commissions of the Antilles Episcopal Conference and is presently the President of the Conference.  In 1989, he was appointed a Council Member of the International Catholic Migration Commission which has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Archbishop Burke was appointed the Fourth Archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica on February 9, 2004, and he was installed on May 2, 2004, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston.

Honorary Degrees:

1983    Doctor of Laws, St. Leo College, St. Leo, Florida

1986    Doctor of Human Letters, St. Joseph’s College, North Windham, Maine

1987    Doctor of Laws, Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut

1989    Doctor of Ministry, The College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, 


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