Only God can make sense of our weakness and our foolishness and through them bring strength and wisdom to people’s lives, said Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB in ordaining Perth boy and Somascan Rev Deacon Sheldon Burke CRS.
The ordination to the priesthood on Saturday 17 June at St Mary’s Cathedral, was attended by more than 850 people with Archbishop Costelloe joined by concelebrants, Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Vicar General the Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely VG, Episcopal Vicar Education and Faith Formation, the Very Rev Fr Vincent Glynn, Somascan Provincial Fr Joseph Kakumanu CRS, (PP of York and also Congregational Leader) Frs Nicholas Diedler and Wilson Donizetti-Martins as MC, and assisted by Deacon Jason Yeap.
Deacon Sheldon Burke CRS lays prostrate during the singing of Litany of the Saints for his Ordination to the Priesthood, Saturday 17 June at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. Photo: Ron Tan/Archdiocese of Perth.
Livestreamed to family and friends across Australia and the world, the Ordination Mass was also attended by former Somascan Vicar Provincial and former Parish Priest of Spearwood, Fr Johnson Malayil CRS, who was also Fr Sheldon’s Postulancy Master, as well as Fr Beniamino Mino Arsieni CRS, who travelled from Rome, who was Fr Sheldon’s former Novice Master.
Our Catholic tradition, emphasised Archbishop Costelloe, has always recognised that Jesus, the living presence of God among us as one of us, is absolutely at the centre of our faith.
“To be a Christian is to live as a disciple, in a relationship of fidelity, commitment and love with Christ,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
The youngest of three boys, Fr Sheldon is the son of Burmese (Myanmar) migrants Desmond and Shirley Burke.
Deacon Sheldon Burke CRS makes his promises of respect and obedience during his ordination to the priesthood, Saturday 17 June at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. Photo: Ron Tan/Archdiocese of Perth.
After graduating high school at Lumen Christi College in 2009, Fr Sheldon explained to The Record he went on to study a degree in Biomedical Science at Murdoch University, graduating in 2012.
By this time however, the significant imprint from a trip to World Youth Day Sydney in 2008 at the age of 16 could not be ignored for much longer.
Fr Sheldon noted meeting and feeling inspired by the numerous priests and seminarians present during the WYD journey, but not really understanding much about what their vocation meant.
“It was during the meeting with (then) Pope Benedict XVI, where he invited the young people to say a prayer to the Holy Spirit, everyone was holding candles and I knew in my heart God was speaking to me,” Deacon Sheldon said.
Growing up under the spiritual care and catechesis of the Vincentian Fathers at Maddington Parish, 31-year-old Sheldon Burke came to eventually know the Somascan Fathers through the friendship and guidance of the now Fr Chris de Sousa CRS, who also hails from Perth.
Joining the Somascan Fathers in 2014, Fr Sheldon underwent his first period of formation in the parishes of Spearwood and Rockingham, before heading to Italy for his year of novitiate and a further two years of study in philosophy at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
Following his solemn profession in November 2020, Fr Sheldon relocated to the Somascan community in Sydney, New South Wales, where he served at the parishes of Moorebank and Holsworthy as a brother and later a deacon, while completing his studies at the Catholic Institute of Sydney.
Only God can make sense of our weakness and our foolishness and through them bring strength and wisdom to people’s lives, said Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB in ordaining Perth boy and Somascan Rev Deacon Sheldon Burke CRS. Photo: Ron Tan/Archdiocese of Perth.
Speaking about the ministry of the priesthood, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the words of Jesus when he said, “You did not choose me – no I chose you”.
“And in remembering those words I hope Sheldon will also remember the words of St Paul: “God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27),” he said.
Sheldon will grow into the good and faithful priest we need him to be, noted Archbishop Costelloe, if he does remember these things: that it is all God’s doing, all God’s grace.
Deacon Jason Yeap elevates the Book of Gospels during the ordination to the priesthood of Deacon Sheldon Burke CRS, Saturday 17 June at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. Photo: Ron Tan/Archdiocese of Perth.
“Only God can make sense of our weakness and our foolishness and through them bring strength and wisdom to people’s lives.
“Our part is to be willing to allow God to work this miracle in us.
If we are convinced that we are strong and wise, and have been chosen because of our extraordinary talents, insights or capabilities, then there is little that God can do for us or in us.
“Our pride will make us obstacles to God’s healing and saving presence in the lives of his people, rather than the signs and bearers of his love that we are called to be.
The newly ordained Fr Sheldon Burke CRS with father Desmond, far left, brothers Warren and Brendon Burke and mother Shirley. Photo: Ron Tan/Archdiocese of Perth.
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