Reverend James Leo Bourke

1882 – 16 July 1909
Ordained 13 June 1908

James was a young man born to Irish immigrant parents who had just begun his life in holy service. I found clippings for two weddings that James performed, one for his cousin, but just one year and one month after his ordination, James died at his home (it’s specified three different ways in three different obituaries, so I’m unclear if it was his personal home or where he was living or his parents’ home or both).

I couldn’t find a birth record or census that was definitely for his family (only 1900 would be available for that), but he was born and raised in Chicago and had at least five siblings.

James was working as an assistant pastor at St. Michael’s at the time of his death and was granted the honor of lying in state at Holy Angels’ church before his funeral was conducted there by Archbishop Quigley (the second Archbishop of Chicago who is interred in the Bishop’s Chapel elsewhere in the same cemetery, his name engraved over the door so likely it was erected during his reign).

James’s headstone is a bit on the grand side compared to the other markers for his fellow clerics that surround the beautiful statue of Mary and the Christ Child. It also lines up perfectly with the statue and the Bishop’s Chapel it faces far down the lane.

Perhaps this was due to his youth when he died, or perhaps he had been considered a young man of great promise expected to go far, and for that reason, he was given this extra bit of pomp upon his untimely death. Maybe they allowed his family to lavish a last bit of excess on their son. In any case, it’s a lovely headstone.

RIP James

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