Father Blaine Burkey, OFM Cap., will be celebrating his Golden Anniversary of ordination on June 3, 2011. He was ordained by Bishop Philip Hannan at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 3, 1961. Fr. Blaine will be the main celebrant at the 10:00 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Hays on Sunday, May 29. Much of his priestly ministry was spent in Ellis County and he is well known by historians, scholars, and religious and priests in the area. His years at St. Francis Seminary and Thomas More Prep-Marian won him countless admirers and friends all over the world in all walks of life.
Fr. Blaine’s main celebration will be with his sisters and the Burkey and Hast families in Cumberland, MD, where he grew up before entering St. Fidelis High School Seminary in Herman, PA, in 1949. That celebration will happen on June 19 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Cumberland.
The word that comes to mind when I think about Blaine is “scholar.” Well, no, maybe “researcher.” Well, that doesn’t say it either. Perhaps, “historian,” or "writer.” All of these describe part of who Fr. Blaine is. Obviously, he is first of all a “brother.” He is an “ordained” brother, too.
We have so many stories to tell about our brother, Father Blaine. I feel a little like John the Evangelist when he said there was so much that happened in Jesus’ life that if it were all written up, there wouldn’t be enough space to hold the books! There were those late nights at Thomas More Prep-Marian when Blaine would call various extensions of people working in their offices and call a “faculty meeting” which consisted of either his home made split-pea soup or his famous oyster stew. Then there was the Center for Research which he ruled with the scepter of a monarch, but which was tarnished by a dog named “Smokey” who sat in his desk and wore his glasses (all happening while Blaine was in Canada working on research involving St. Joseph). The Center for Research, by the way, has been named “Father Blaine Burkey Center for Research” in 1998.
Fr. Blaine’s travels took him to Novosibirsk, Russia, and to Papua New Guinea, not to mention places in Europe. He is an “honorary” Volga German and an Honorary Life Member of the Ellis County Historical Society. He was listed in the outstanding Young Men of America” in 1967 (when he was young). In1968 he was listed in the “Distinguished Community Leaders of America.” In 1970 he was recognized and listed in “Personalities of the West and Mid-West.” His works include everything from historical studies of the wild west and its characters to his most recent work which is a biography of Julia Greeley, a Denver saint and early parishioner of one of our Denver parishes, Sacred Heart. When Fr. Blaine researches something, the resulting product is thoroughly and completely
researched. And it is incredibly accurate.
Fr. Blaine’s life as a brother and a priest has been one of humble service as well as gentle and indirect evangelization. Through his wide varied academic interests he has spurred the curiosity of many people who have worked with him to find out who this bearded scholarly man is. When they discover that he is a Capuchin friar, a Catholic priest, they have a new perspective on the Church and its members and its mission.
We congratulate Fr. Blaine on his fifty years of priestly service to the Church. May you have many more years of fruitful research and rewarding ministry in the Capuchin Order and the Church.