Dennis J. Burns passed away suddenly on August 24, 2009; he was 89 years old.
native of Cambridge,
Father Burns was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Richard Cushing at
Holy Cross Cathedral on May 3, 1950. He had
many and varied assignments in the archdiocese and beyond.
to studies in canon law at the Catholic University of America in 1954, he
served as assistant pastor and temporary administrator in two parishes.
Burns’ long and eminent service to the church locally, in the nation and
internationally through his study, teaching and genuine love of canon law took
shape with his graduate studies at CUA which began in 1954. He completed his doctoral
studies and his dissertation on the indissolubility of marriage.
completion of his studies in 1957 he was named chaplain at Regis College
in Weston serving there until 1960 (and later from 1963-1969) when he was
assigned to the staff of the tribunal of the archdiocese where he served as
defender of the bond form 1969 to 1974. In 1971 he taught on the Faculty of
Canon Law at Catholic University of America.
1974 he was named acting officialis of the archdiocese in 1974 and officialis the
following year. He continued to serve in the tribunal until 1996.
1990 Cardinal Law named him pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea parish in the
historic and scenic town of Marblehead on the Bay State’s North Shore.
almost 15 years and well past the usual retirement age, Father Burns also
served another active and dynamic parish with great zeal and energy. While
serving as pastor in both parishes, Father Burns remained deeply committed to
canon law and the pursuit of justice.
Burns was an active member of the Canon Law Society of America until his death,
attending national and regional meetings annually. True to the end Fr. Burns
was one of the first to register for the October 2009 convention in Louisville! He was
elected President of the Society in 1979 and later received the Society’s
prestigious Role of Law Award in 1993. The following excerpt from his Role of Law acceptance speech was quoted in his obituary: "You have all shared with me your wisdom and your friendship over these years; you have elected me to serve you in office; you have given me great laughter and some of the happiest times of my priesthood. You have above all given me a vision of the Church I could not have imagined. You have shaped my understanding of the law in service to the People of God."
Father Burns will Lie in State at Saint John the Evangelist Church, Swampscott, on Friday, August 28th from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Reception of the Body will be held at 3:30 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Saint John the Evangelist Church, Swampscott, on Saturday, August 29th at 11:00 a.m. Interment at Waterside Cemetery, 294 West Shore, Marblehead, 01945.
Please remember Fr. Burns and his
family in your prayers and masses.