The evening of 8 July in Holy Name parish for the funeral vigil of Fr. Noel Burke was quite different and yet there was one thing in common with the morning celebration– the affection and respect expressed by a parish community for its pastor. The small church was packed to standing room only for the service which was presided over by Mgr Paul Conroy.
The following day, Fr. Burke’s body was taken to the larger church of St. Mary Immaculate in Pollokshaws for the Funeral Mass in recognition of the numbers of people who would wish to attend his funeral. Archbishop Emeritus Conti (in the absence of Archbishop Tartaglia who was abroad) was principal concelebrant with priests from across the Diocese and beyond. He was joined by Bishop Toal of Motherwell and Bishop Emeritus Taylor of Galloway both of whom had known Fr. Burke during his time in Spain.
Archbishop Conti began his reflection with a reference to the first reading of the Mass from the Book of Wisdom (4:7-15). The virtues, he said, had been solid in Fr. Noel. He had His father had died when he was still young and his mother before he finished seminary, and so, as the eldest of 4 brothers, he had carried this added family burden while continuing his studies.
Among other appointments, Fr. Burke had been Spiritual Director at the seminary at Valladolid where he had studied for his STL quite happily alongside his students. He had also been Vocations Director for the Bishops’ Conference in Scotland. People might wonder, said Archbishop Conti, why we had lost such a good and able priest. The answer was to be found in the second reading from St Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians (4:13-18) where we are invited to rejoice because he is with the Lord.
The music of the Mass was supported by the St. Mungo Singers, with additional music from Dr. Noel Donnelly on harp. The setting of Psalm 120 used was one written by the organist of Fr. Noel’s parish, Catherine Walker.