Father John Birk, a retired priest, dies at 85

Fr. John Birk

Father John W. Birk, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, died Oct. 20. He was 85 and had been a priest of the archdiocese for 52 years.

Father Birk, a native of Louisville, attended St. Columba and Our Mother of Sorrows schools and graduated from St. Xavier High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in religious studies from Indiana University.

Prior to entering St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, Father Birk taught elementary school and served in the U.S. Army from 1958-1964. He also worked as a journalist in radio, TV and print, writing for The Record newspaper, before entering the seminary. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Thomas J. McDonough on May 16, 1970.

Father Birk served as pastor of St. Luke and Holy Name churches. He also served as associate pastor of St. Martha, St. Barnabas, Guardian Angels, St. Leonard and Christ the King churches. He served as administrator at St. Aloysius Church in Shepherdsville, Ky.

Father Birk also celebrated the Byzantine rite divine liturgy for the Byzantine rite Catholic community in the archdiocese for more than 40 years. He retired in 2007.

He is survived by his sister, Ellyn Steineman, six nieces and nephews, 14 great nieces and nephews and two great-great nieces.

Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 26 at Holy Name Church, 2914 S. Third St.

The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11 a.m. He will be buried in the priests’ section at Calvary Cemetery.

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