Story and Photos By Marianne Salza
After 20 years as the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Father Charlie Bourke celebrated his final Mass before his retirement on May 26.
Friends, family, and parishioners filled the pews to honor Father Bourke, a man who has a coupon for everything, loves playing cards and gambling at Foxwoods Casino, and always concludes Mass with a joke.
“I am filled with an enormous sense of gratitude,” said Father Bourke, who commemorated the 49th anniversary of his priesthood during the Memorial Day weekend. “The wonderful friendships I have made here have been an extraordinary blessing. My hope is that St. John’s continues to value our Catholic faith, and live it in service to one another.”
During his final homily, Father Bourke explained Jesus’s gift of inner peace, a spiritual tranquility that helps us become aware of Christ’s presence in our daily lives.
Members of the Kenyan community performed special songs in Swahili, and the choir sang a Naval hymn to honor Father Bourke’s service in the United States Navy.
“There are many facets to Father Charlie Bourke’s life,” described Father Chris O’Connor, who will continue to lead St. John’s. “Christian Charlie has embodied the Golden Rule: love your neighbor as yourself. St. John the Evangelist Parish will always be his home.”
Father Bourke concluded Mass with a humorous story about a priest who was being transferred to another parish. He consoled a sobbing woman by reassuring her that the next pastor would be excellent.
“She sobbed even louder and said, ‘That’s what they said last time,’” added Father Bourke with a satisfied smile that was met with roaring applause by the congregation.
Father Bourke celebrated with a farewell reception in the school hall. He will become a senior priest of the Archdiocese and reside at St. Agnes Rectory, 51 Medford St., Arlington, MA, 02474, where he can be contacted by emailing [email protected]