Michael loved life and lived it to the fullest. He did more in his short 27 years than most do in a full lifetime. He will be missed terribly by all those whose lives he touched.

Memories of Michael

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From: Kate & Jeff Townsend (2005)

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Burke and Michael's dear family,

Words that we could offer cannot ease your shock, anger, and sadness your family must be experiencing. We hope, though, that with every word of comfort, every hug or gesture of condolence you are reminded of how much Mike was loved.

Although we were not able to make it back to Iowa for Mike's wake and funeral we wanted to be sure your family knew how much we loved Mike.

My husband and I were members of Newman Singers a few years before Mike joined. We often enjoyed going to see the “gang” after graduation at a Newman Singers concert or finding the group at a parish in Chicago area. Mike was a new face at one of the concerts and I remember clearly how he stood out to us on the risers. His love for singing and the faith – filled messages were immediately clear to us. After the concert, Mike made a point of introducing himself to us. To be honest, his reputation had preceeded our first meeting. We had heard about the “new singer” and his great personality, spirit and friendships with all the members. It was easy to see that his outer beauty was secondary to his beautiful spirit.

Upon our repeat visits and subsequent get-togethers once he moved to Chicago, we always knew if Mike Burke was going to be there we were all going to have a great time.

I remember a recent visit back in Chicago after he had moved to New York. We had had our second child and Mike was asking me how it was going being a stay-at-home mom and having a growing family. I vividly remember Mike telling me he had a new baby. Expecting to hear about a new puppy or a new girlfriend, he pulled out a picture of his sister's newest baby – the newest member of the Burke family. He certainly was a proud uncle!

I've talked to so m any other Newman Singers over the past week and we kept repeating;

—Mike made you feel like you were his closet friend.
—Mike had a way of making it seem like no time had passed between our visits.
—Mike lived more in his 27 years than most of us will in 72 years.
—You never saw Mike without a smile on his face and a hug to share.

We've had Mike in the front of our thoughts and conversations since we got the terrible news. Like your family we're trying to understand God's plan. In God's greatness, it is clear that our brains cannot possibly understand God's plan. It is the same love that God shares with us when he gives us life- this same love calls us safely home.

We sincerely believe that Miek is not so far away, not off in some distant cloud or other image from our childhood rationale. We believe Mike is with us every time he entes our minds; when we rememer his great smile, his beautiful personality, his spirit for fun, his loyalty for friends and his courage to spread his wings and soar… When we remember Mike everyday, we will model our lives to be more like his… he lives on in all of us.

We share your sadness and know our lives are better for knowing Mike.

Kate and Jeff Townsend

Fly, Mike! We'll meet you again!

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