Biography: John Burke

John Burke, the son of Irish immigrants, was born in New York City in 1875. Burke was educated at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and entered the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (the Paulists) in 1899. From 1903-04, he served as assistant editor of the Paulist publication The Catholic World, and would then serve as editor from 1904-22. Interested especially in matters of charity and social justice, Burke was one of the driving forces behind the creation of National Catholic War Council, as well as one of its founding members. He served as the chairman of the NCWC's Committee on Special War Activies; his efforts were recognized by the U.S. War Department following the end of World War I, when Burke was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. The National Catholic War Council was reorganized in 1919 and most of its functions were transferred to the newly formed National Catholic Welfare Council (later National Catholic Welfare Conference), though the War Council remained a legal entity until 1931. Burke was appointed as the first general secretary of the Welfare Council, and he guided the organization through its first two decades of existance, serving from 1919 until his death in 1936.