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James Burshek, SJ

60 Years a Jesuit
Teacher of Theology, De Smet Jesuit High School

Father James Burshek, SJ, celebrates 60 years in the Society of Jesus. He currently serves as a theology teacher at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis and became a member of the school’s board of trustees in 2014. He has also served on the board of trustees for St. Louis University High School, Regis Jesuit High School, Rockhurst University and Saint Louis University.

After his initial studies, Fr. Burshek served at St. Louis University High School as a teacher and as director of the pastoral program. He then served in the same roles for Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, Colorado, from 1982 to 1988.

Father Burshek then served as the socius for the former Missouri Province, only to be called back to Regis High in 1991 to serve as interim president. He remained there for several more years, serving as a teacher of theology and eventually as the superior of the Regis High Jesuit community.

In 2002, Fr. Burshek returned to the Missouri Province office in St. Louis, serving first as the assistant to the treasurer and then as the province treasurer.

In 2008, he shifted his work toward spiritual direction, serving as the White House Jesuit Retreat director from 2008 to 2014. He then taught for a year at St. Louis University High School and served as superior at the St. Jean de Brébeuf Jesuit Community until 2019. In 2015, he began his current ministry at De Smet Jesuit High School.

Father Burshek earned his bachelor’s in philosophy and classics from Saint Louis University and a Master of Divinity from Regis College of Toronto’s School of Theology.

Father Burshek’s Reflection on 60 Years as a Jesuit

Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian poet and mystic, opens his Gitanjali with the following poem:

You have made me endless,
such is your pleasure.
This frail vessel you empty again and again,
and fill it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed you have carried over hills and dales,
and have breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy
and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

God has done great things for me. God has been good to me and led me to places I would never have suspected. Sometimes I was eager to follow; sometimes reticent. But God always led me to places where I could find life, love and God Himself.

God has put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:4)

As I look back, I am filled with gratitude for all those who have helped me live this graced life: parents, teachers, friends, Jesuit companions, students – all have revealed to me in so many ways this wonderful love of God.

My novice master, Fr. Charlie Hunter, SJ, used to play with words: Jesuita – Jesu ita – like to Jesus in trying to help others see themselves as “sinners who are loved by God.” That is who I am, who we are.

But God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Everyone, every moment of my Jesuit life have been sacraments of this overwhelming love.

A friend of mine had this quote on his ordination card; it has become something of a mantra for me:

Only one thing is important, whether we are brave or cowardly: to be always there, where God would have us, and for the rest to trust Him.

Deo gratias!

~ Fr. Jim Burshek, SJ