Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

News Story

May 20, 2024 – Fr. Thaddeus Burch, SJ, was born in Baltimore, Md., on June 4, 1930. He was always proud of his roots in southern Maryland. He graduated from Loyola High School in Baltimore, Md., before entering the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1948, at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pa. He was ordained a priest on June 18, 1961, at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., and pronounced final vows on August 15, 1965, at Loyola College in Baltimore, Md.

Fr. Burch entered and remained a member of the Maryland (and later the USA East) Province but ministered in and was applied to the Wisconsin (and later the USA Midwest) Province from 1976 until his death.

While in the Society, Fr. Burch earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics (1954), master’s degrees in education (1956) and physics (1967), and a doctorate in physics (1968) from Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. He also earned a licentiate in philosophy from Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y. (1955) and a licentiate in sacred theology from Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md. (1967).

During Regency, Fr. Burch taught physics and math at Scranton Preparatory School in Scranton, Pa. (1955-1958). After earning his doctorate he was a professor of physics at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pa. (1969-1972), Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. (1972-1974), and the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. (1974-1976). Fr. Burch then was missioned to Marquette University where he ministered for over four decades. At Marquette University he was: a professor of physics (1976-1991), chair of the physics department (1977-1988), acting dean (2001-2002) and then dean of the graduate school (2002-2003), and director of special projects (2003-2015). In 2016, Fr. Burch was missioned to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus. Fr. Burch’s devotion to Marquette University continued until his death and, while he was living at St. Camillus, he continued to help Marquette University with special projects. When he could no longer drive from St. Camillus to Marquette University, Fr. Burch would take the bus.

Professionally, Fr. Burch co-authored 43 articles and 21 abstracts on the use of nuclear magnetic resonance to study ferromagnetic materials and properties. He was university delegate to Argonne Universities Association 1977-1982. From 2000-2010, he was a member of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s institutional review board that regulates medical research for the college.

Fr. Burch expressed care, concern, and follow-through for graduate students. He especially cared for international Jesuit graduate students and helped raise funds to support their education at Marquette University. Being the quintessential scientist, Fr. Burch kept data on the graduate students with which he worked. He followed what they were doing and if they were using their graduate degree in their ministries. Fr. Burch believed that the education students received at the Marquette University had a “multiplier effect” and was Marquette University’s gift to the worldwide Society of Jesus. Because of Fr. Burch’s excellent care for graduate students, the “Burch Scholarship” was created. This scholarship provides merit-based and need-based scholarships for students in all Marquette University graduate programs.

Fr. Burch was an unassuming Jesuit who was rooted in quiet and consistent service to others, especially to graduate students. He had a sophisticated sense of the arts and their relationship to people’s lives. In addition, he had a deep understanding of the impact of the humanities on the sciences and education in general. He truly believed that a liberal education was beneficial not only to the student but to everyone the student would encounter throughout their lives. Fr. Burch sparked conversations at socials and the dinner table by introducing interesting, thought-provoking topics. Although he maintained clear ideas, Fr. Burch listened for and was delighted by the valuable insights offered by others.

Fr. Burch died on May 14, 2024, at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwautosa, Wis. He was 93 years old. He was preceded in death by his brothers: Thomas Burch and Fr. Francis F. Burch, SJ (MAR). He is survived by his nieces (Julia, Margaret, and Karli) and his nephew (Soren). Ever the scientist, Fr. Burch donated his body to the Medical College of Wisconsin. May he rest in peace.