Father Alphonsus Joseph Burns10 May 1916- 1st February 1990Born Ballinasloe 10 May 1916Entered Roscrea 15 May 1936Solemn Profession 25 September 1941Ordination 25 February1944Brentwood Diocese 31 January 1968Liverpool Archdiocese 7th February 1977Died Widnes 1 February 1990Panegyric by a college contemporary, priest colleague.Joseph Burns was born on 10th May 1916, in Lenfin, near Ballinasloe. He received his primary education in the local school, and then in 1931 went to the Cistercian College, Roscrea, for his Secondary Education. Two years later, I started secondary in the same College. and thus met Joe for the first time In College he was very popular and well liked, and so was given many little jobs by the Authorities, that brought him into contact with all the pupils. In this way I got to know him, although he was two years senior to me.Having finished College in July 1936, he entered Mount St. Joseph's Cistercian Abbey on 15th August of the same year. With three others, he was Ordained Priest on 25th February 1944. Two years later, a new Foundation, from Roscrea, was made in Scotland, at Nunraw, 21 miles south of Edinburgh. thirty three Monks were sent there, in three groups. The first six, with the Abbot of Roscrea, arrived on 1st February 1946 and had the first Masses there an the 2nd February, when the property became theirs. This group had to prepare the empty house for the arrival of the others. The second group of eight, arrived on 21st February, among whom was Fr. Joe. The Scholastics arrived about a month later, and the others came individually till the thirty three were all installed in their new home.Each Monk had to do more than one job. Thus, Fr. Joe was appointed as assistant guest-master, which he retained all during his time in Nunraw. But he also had additional jobs at different times, such as sacristan, master of lay-brethren, and in charge of the voluntary workers camp, when the building of the new abbey was in progress. This latter brought together people from all walks of life, including students for the Priesthood. Among the latter was the present Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Archbishop Keith O'Brien. Through the Guest-house and the Camp, he became very well known and loved by all who met him.In 1967 he came to Brentwood Diocese to take up pastoral work, and spent ten years here. He started in South Ockendon; then spent some time in Upton Park, before being appointed parish priest of Collier Row.He loved the Brentwood Diocese, and had no wish to leave it; but God had other plans for him, which he willingly accepted. On 7th February 1977, I drove him to Liverpool. He supplied in Formby and other places, for a few weeks, before being appointed to Wigan. There he settled down to- assist an infirm Priest. When this latter celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination, he stated at the reception, that the last seven years, were the happiest of his whole Priesthood, due to Fr. Burns. While in Wigan, Fr. Joe used to distribute about one hundred and twenty Communions during each First Friday week. He used to go out every day of that week, morning and afternoon, with four pyxs; having sent the members of the junior Legion of Mary before him, to remind the people of his visit. The other priest used to have thirty to forty Communions the same week. He spent a little over nine years in Wigan, before being transferred to Widnes, where he spend just over three years.Eight days before he died, he suffered a stroke, and half an hour later, he had a massive heart attack, from which he never recovered. He passed peacefully to his maker on Thursday 1st February. On the following Monday evening, his remains were received into the church and was followed by a Mass concelebrated by the priest of the deanery. About thirty Priests were present, and the dean gave an excellent homily on Fr. Joe. The large church was packed. Next day, the Funeral Mass was concelebrated with two bishops and over forty priests from different parts of the Diocese. The Abbot of Nunraw and several Priests who were Students with Fr. Joe, were present. Past pupils of Cistercian College Roscrea, were also there. Our own Diocese was represented by Mgr. Michael Corley and three other priests. Bishop Kevin O'Connor was the chief Celebrant and he too gave a wonderful homily on a great priest. The Church was again packed, including three coaches of people and many cars, from Wigan. After the Mass, his body was flown to Knock Airport and then to his home parish, where a third Mass took place before he was laid to rest, with the deceased members of his family. We also, had a Mass for him in Collier Row, where he had been Parish Priest. The Bishop was the principal Celebrant.