Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

R. D. Dennis M. Burke, O. Praem.

Birth: May 27, 1905

Death: Dec. 19,, 1998

House: St. Norbert Abbey

Our brother Dennis Burke was born in Casco, Wisconsin in 1905.  After graduating from St. Norbert High and the college, where he was salutatorian, he joined the Order in 1924.

Selected to study at the Gregorian in Rome in 1926, he earned his licentiate in theology in 1928, and was solemnly professed at Tongerlo in 1929 by Bishop Thomas Heylen, O. Praem., that same year.  He spent from 1930 until 1932 at the Angelicum, earning a doctorate in Canon Law and working in the Vatican Library, where he received a certificate in library science and archivistics.

“Pin”, as he was called, was a professor of philosophy at the college from 1932 until 1948, and of canon law at the abbey until 1949.  During that time he was also a notary for the Green Bay diocesan marriage tribunal.  In 1934 he was also prior under Abbot Pennings.  He was young enough to be referred to as “The Boy Prior.”

In 1947 Dennis was appointed pastor of St. Willibrord in Green Bay , where he remained until he was appointed the second president of St. Norbert College in 1955; a post he held until 1968.  During that same period of time he was: President of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, President of the Wisconsin Association of Presidents and Deans of Instruction of Higher Learning, President of the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges and President of the Wisconsin Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. 

He was also on the Executive Committee of the American Association for Higher Education, a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Commission on Education, the North Central Association of Accreditation, and a charter member of the Canon Law Society of America.

The college granted him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1968, and from that year until 1977, he held the title of chancellor of the college.  In 1979 the original residence hall on campus was re-named in his honor.

After retiring to the abbey, Dennis died on Saturday, December 19, 1998 at the age of 93.

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