CONWAY — The Church of St. James dedicated its new organ to the late Father Henry J. Burke on June 26 with a concert that the priest would have appreciated. Father Burke, the first pastor of St. James, was a musician who often pulled out his clarinet or flute during Mass to play a song.
“Always music was a key part of his life,” said Father Rick La-Brecque, current pastor of St. James.
“We all know how special Father Burke was to our church and to the church of South Carolina,” he added. The priest died Sept. 9, 2004, at age 86.
Father Burke had a chance to go on the road with big bands as a young man, but chose to enter the priesthood instead. He never lost his love of music, though, and his estate contributed a large part of the funds for St. James’ new organ.
Mary Savaro remembered Father Burke as “full of character, one of a kind.”
“He pulled out a clarinet at my daughter’s wedding and nearly gave me a heart attack,” Savaro said. “Then he was just the prime, top performer of the wedding, and I took full credit for it. He was that kind of person, a person you don’t forget.”