'Big Chief' celebrates 50 years of service

Congratulations to the former Boorowa and Cowra Resident, Father Gregory Bourke O.F.M. on his 50th Anniversary as a Franciscan Missionary Priest  at St Anna's Provenience, Aitape PNG.

Fondly known there as Big Chief, Father Bourke was ordained into the Ministry of the Catholic Priesthood at St Raphaels, Cowra on July, 25 1964.

Father Greg Bourke O.F.M. returned to Boorowa the following day with his parents and siblings to celebrate his first mass at St Patricks.

Fr Greg was born in Boorowa, spending his early childhood with his brothers and sisters and parents, Jack and Emily Bourke.

Jack Bourke was the former deputy mayor of Boorowa and had his own business as Barber Shop, where Bertie McMahon barbers at the present time.

Later, Jack Bourke moved to another location on the corner of Pudman and Market Streets, where the Boorowa News office is now located.

On these premises, Jack, besides having the barber shop, had a skating ring, a billiard saloon, tap dancing studios and outside- a mini golf course.

Jack was a veteran of both World Wars. In the 1940s he was employed in the Army to escort the prisoners of war soldiers from Italy and Europe to the prisoner of war camp at Cowra. Thus, the Bourke family moved from Boorowa to Cowra, where Fr Greg completed his primary schooling at St Raphaels.

Fr Greg began and finished his secondary studies at College in Robertson, on the Southern Highlands.

At the same location Fr Greg began his minor and major Ecclesiastical Studies for the Catholic Franciscan Order of St Francis, the priesthood.

After Fr Greg's Ordination in July 1964 at Cowra he was sent to do parish work at Waverley, Sydney.

In 1965 Fr Greg volunteered to work in the province of PNG and began working in the missions continuously for 50 years.

In 1975 hr was elected as Religious Superior for six years in PNG and in 1978 he was sent to Rome in the mission section of the General Constitutions. In 1986 Fr Greg went to USA to seek funds for the St Anna's Missions at Aitape and it was during his Sabbatical he went back to his studies at Canterbury England. Meeting up with his friend Peter McGrath, they did a quick tour of France, Spain, Poland, and Hungary.

It may be a little bit late but congratulations Gregory on your 50th Anniversary- a very dedicated and loyal service to your vocation in the priesthood, to God and to the people at Aitape, PNG.

-Bede Ryan