Locals Bid Farewell to Father Burnham
Local priest to move on and become a seminary educator at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
A farewell gathering was held for St. Andrew by the Bay’s (SABB) Father Martin Burnham this weekend as the parish says goodbye to one leader and prepares for another.
Though SABB is physically located at the intersection of College Parkway and Cape St. Claire Road, the large get-together was held at Saint John Neumann Church on Bestgate Road in Annapolis. Burnham's last day of duties was the previous Friday. More than 250 parishioners showed up to express their appreciation, to say goodbye and to extend well wishes to the popular priest.
“He’s wonderful,” said Kathy Beard, SABB’s Office Manager. “He feeds his flock so much love. That’s why there are so many people here.”
Indeed, the room was filled to capacity, with many people spilling out into the outdoor areas to sit down and dine and drink refreshments. From the time Father Burnham arrived at 7 p.m., a line of well wishers 40 to 50 people deep didn’t let up.
According to Beard, Burnham will move on to join another order and to teach seminarians how to become priests at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Before his new duties begin, he will spend a month in France.
Father Burnham spoke to the group about the conflicting emotions connected to his leaving. One such difficluty includes a recent construction mishap. After he’d packed all of his belongings—cards, letters, photos, and other personal items—into boxes, contractors performing construction at SABB accidentally triggered the sprinkler system, destroying Burnham’s books and sentimental valuable items.
The loss was mitigated by gifts he received Saturday night—a large book brimming with handwritten personal notes from children and an exhaustive scrapbook capturing heartfelt memories of his three years at SABB.
“I was talking to staff members about bitter sweetness this week,” Father Burnham said during a speech. “Everyone tells me, ‘you’re doing what you want to do.’ It’s something that I’ve sat on for the past couple years. My influence has been that God has been able to use me in the parishes where I’ve been.”
In his new role of training priests, “I’ll be able to affect more parishes in the U.S., which I look forward to. I do not look forward to losing a family. I can’t put it into words what’s been shared with me through you. Thank you for being my family. I continue to pray for you. At the Eucharist we remain united. Thank you for the gift you are to me.”
The evening was heavy with memories. Stephany Crane, Pastoral Associate, recalled an experience that happened shortly after Father Burnham’s arrival.
“One of his first masses was a baptism. When he baptized the baby, he took such care. At the end, he asked the parents, ‘Do you mind if I use the baby to bless everyone?’ He held the baby in his arms, and blessed us all. Our parish felt so good to have somebody who is one of us. It felt amazing," said Crane.
"He’s been ingratiating himself to us ever since. Only one time during a baptism did a baby cry. He handles children so well because he has so many nephews and nieces; he’s used to working with children."
“The whole parish feels a deep sense of loss,” explained Tim Feist, vice president of the pastoral council.
Parishioner Noelle Anuszkiewicz said, “We adopted him. He became an irreplaceable part of the community. He’s a very gifted listener, generous with his personal time. He’s seen us through trials and good times. He’s like a member of the family.”
Feist dovetailed on Anuszkiewicz’ comments, “That says it all - when someone’s been around for only three and a half years and has faced all the issues that arise in a pastoral community. He’s decisive, makes things happen. He helps families and individuals find their best potential."
St. Andrew by the Bay will welcome its new Pastor, Rev. Jeffrey S. Dauses, on July 1.
The summer mass schedule begins July 2-3 and will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. The regular Mass schedule resumes the weekend of September 3-4, 2011.
For more information, visit www.standrewbythebay.org.