John Burke was one of three founding members of The Defenders of the Faith, Inc., in Berkeley Springs about eight years ago. They were John, Fred Paschall and myself. Our main concern was to defend the faith against misinformation from our clergy. We started publishing letters and sending them out to parishioners. With the very first issue of The Defender, every article was reviewed by at least one orthodox Catholic priest. If it did not pass inspection, it was rewritten or not published at all. The cost of the initial publications came from our own pockets; however, as our readers grew in number, we began to receive monetary support from those who wished to see us succeed. This included donations from readers in other states as well as from several priests.
The success of this newsletter was in a large part due to John. He was a prolific writer and he knew his faith. He also knew who would help us physically, financially and spiritually. He was also our chief editor.
We would be attacked by those who disagreed with our message, but John would always say, “Show us one thing that is not God’s truth in our newsletter.” and no one could ever find an error.
Within two years the activities of the organization grew from a small newsletter to a website, www.thedefender.org. Thanks to John’s knowledge of the faith, we received a ‘Fidelity Green Light Award’ from CatholicCulture.org for excellence in Catholic Fidelity.
About four years ago John heard that the FCC was opening a window for low-powered FM stations. We talked with the right people and found it was possible. Our first order of business was to start a prayer group headed by John’s wife, Bette Burke. We were up and running three months ahead of schedule.
John has always been a defender of the faith. He devoted his life to Jesus and the Blessed Mother. He had an unconditional love and devotion to his faith and family. While raising his family of two boys, one daughter and five grandchildren he was active in parish life, the scouts and the pro-life movement. After his retirement in Berkeley Springs, John continued his service to the Lord by establishing a local Birthright Center to help pregnant women. John was active in his parish and at times president of the Holy Name Society, the Morgan County chapter of West Virginians for Life, and the Defenders of the Faith. He always took a proactive role in his positions.
John’s last words were the recitation of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
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