In the eulogy which Brother Stephen Comeau wrote about Brother Edward, a very unique and dear teacher emerges:
“He was a versatile teacher, whether the subject matter was religion, French, history or mathematics. His willingness to accept almost any teaching schedule presented to him was one of his remarkable traits. In typical Ed Burns fashion he would respond to the schedule maker with a raspy retort: ‘Give me the answer book and ten minutes, and I will be there!’ That statement so well expressed his commitment to the mission and ministry to the Xaverian Brothers wherever he taught. His students were a loyal sort. They were attracted to his gruff voice and to the nicknames he would attach to them. He had the ability to engender self-confidence in his students. His sense of humor was woven into his teaching. His classroom stories were often repeated by his boys at dinner tables throughout Worcester County, and indeed in every other locale where he had taught.”
Edward Joseph Burns was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, on June 21, 1921. He responded to God’s call early in life, entering the Saint Joseph Juniorate in Peabody from which he graduated in 1939. On the Feast of the Assumption that year, he received the Xaverian Habit and the name Frederick. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint John’s University in 1944 and a Master’s degree in education from Fordham University in 1950. He studied as an undergraduate for a time at The Catholic University and did graduate work during his teaching career at Loyola, Hunter, Boston College and Worcester State College.
He began his teaching career at Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx in 1943, remaining there for five years until he was sent to Saint Michael’s Diocesan High School in Brooklyn. In the 50’s he taught at four schools, Saint Francis de Sales High School in Utica, Flaget in Louisville, Mount Loretto on Staten Island and Malden Catholic. From 1959 until 1963 he was stationed at Mission High School. Then it was back to Cardinal Hayes in 1963, and then to Malden Catholic again in 1964 and back to Cardinal Hayes in 1967. In 1970, he began a lengthy assignment at Saint John’s in Shrewsbury where he remained until he entered Harborside-Twin Oaks Nursing Home, just a few blocks from Xaverian House in 2003.
Finally, this Brother, who had a gift for entertaining with his stories and helping in a thousand ways in community in the years following his retirement from the classroom, “. . . was in fact, a very private and shy person. He was not one who sought out places where he might receive accolades. Brother Ed never knew how much good work he had done or how much he was deeply appreciated.” He died a grateful Brother and leaves behind a rich legacy.
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