Final Profession: Br Sheldon solidifies his commitment to religious life

26 Nov 2020

By Amanda Murthy

The final profession solemn Mass of Somascan Brother Sheldon Burke was celebrated by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, concelebrated by Fr Pierluigi Vajra CRS, Fr Johnson D’Souza CRS, Fr Joseph Kakumanu CRS, Fr Pierangelo Borali CRS, joined by Vincentian Fathers and Archdiocesan priests on Saturday 21 November at Spearwood Parish. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Committed in God’s love and humble service, Somascan Brother Sheldon Nicholus Maria Burke is now closer to living out his priesthood vocation, having carried out his final profession at a solemn Mass on Saturday 21 November, at St Jerome’s Church, Spearwood Parish.

Held on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, the Mass was celebrated by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, concelebrated by Fr Pierluigi Vajra CRS, Fr Johnson D’Souza CRS, Fr Joseph Kakumanu CRS, Fr Pierangelo Borali CRS, joined by Vincentian Fathers and Archdiocesan priests.

“By giving us the privilege of sharing this moment with him, Br Sheldon is also inviting us to listen to the voice of God calling us along the journey of our lives,” Archbishop Costelloe remarked in his homily.

“That we have accepted Br Sheldon’s invitation is already a sign that we have been open to the Lord’s voice. But we know, as Sheldon knows, that it is not always easy to hear the Lord’s voice, to grasp what God is asking of us, and most specially to find the courage to say ‘yes’.

“The life story of each one of us will contain moments of fidelity and infidelity, of courage and of cowardice, of boldness and of timidity, of openness to God and of forgetfulness of God,” he added.

Somascan Brother Sheldon Burke is the second Somascan in Australia to receive his final profession on Saturday 21 November at Spearwood Parish. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Just like Mother Mary, who was initially greatly troubled when the angel appeared to her and greeted her, Archbishop Costelloe remarked there would have been times when Br Sheldon was overcome with fear and uncertainty at the idea that God was calling him to this “unique life of total and public consecration in the Church”.

“But, of course, Mary’s journey does not end in confusion or uncertainty because Mary listens, and believes, and takes into her heart the words the angel says to her as he leads her to understand the true nature of God’s call.”

Recounting the words of Somascan founder St Jerome Emiliani, who once professed: ‘Our goal is God, the source of all good’,” Archbishop Costelloe affirmed.

“Today, in the presence of your religious community, of your family, and of your friends, you claim once again the grace of your baptism and you commit yourself publicly, solemnly, and for ever to make the living of your baptismal consecration, according to the spirit and charism of your holy founder St Jerome Emiliani, the one and only goal of your life.

“Today you claim Christ as the precious treasure for which you are prepared to abandon everything else.

“Today, like Mary, you commit yourself to living by trusting faith in God, abandoning your own dreams and plans and allowing the Lord to be the Good Shepherd in whose footsteps you will follow no matter where they might lead you,” he concluded.

It was the persistent call of God, an invitation too good to ignore since the age of 16, that eventually drew a 20-year-old Sheldon to discern, learn more about religious life and accept his invitation to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience for life.

Born in Perth to Burmese migrant parents and the youngest of three boys, Br Sheldon fondly recalls a firm Catholic upbringing from the grassroots.

“My family has always held their faith as the most important aspect of our lives and it was by the example of my parents, who not only spoke how we should follow Christ but also lived it out in their deeds and witness,” Br Sheldon told The eRecord.

“Prayer, Mass and service to the Church were the hallmarks of our life.”

Describing his college life as one where he lost his sense of direction, Br Sheldon recalls the events at a Vincentian Fathers Ministry retreat, that forever changed the course of his life.

“I knew this retreat was a place where many found conversion and joy within their hearts, and this would be the place that affirmed my call to the priesthood, a transformative experience indeed,” he stated.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to maintain this new-found peace, but as soon as I had that thought, the next talk was on Mother Mary. I knew that she was going to be Queen that lead me and my heart evermore closer to Jesus.

“I felt like I could finally part from the ways of the world. But it wasn’t as if God called me to the priesthood there. He wanted to transform my heart to that of His Most Sacred Heart, each day!” he expressed.

“So as time went on, I felt a docility in my heart growing day by day. I started to attend daily Holy Mass, Adoration, and prayed the rosary daily. My heart conformed to His, and finally I felt the desire to start discerning.”

Br Sheldon’s enrolment into the Somascan Order was inspired by observing the Somascan Fathers in Perth who were always available for the people, but also had a strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady.

“I could see that this was the source of their radiant display of their charism. I wanted to also work with young people since it is my passion, especially in the field of education.”

Br Sheldon added that with the grace of God, his mission remains to get to Heaven in the path of Holiness, ensuring that “everyone else around me comes with me too”.

“Faith, to me, is everything. Faith not in man, but in God alone.

“I really felt that all difficulties in my journey this far and I’m sure beyond were over come through the power of the Holy Rosary, Adoration, and the meditation of Scripture.

“Not to mention the prayers of all those around me, especially of my parents who were and still are my biggest prayer warriors,” he concluded.

To watch the final profession Mass of Somascan Brother Sheldon Burke, visit: