Fr. Jesse Burish - Class of 2000
“The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it,” said William James, a 19th century American philosopher. As I looked back to my high school yearbook, that was the quotation I picked to go below my senior year photo. I don’t remember where I found the quotation, and then as now, I didn’t even know that much about William James. While the quotation isn’t necessarily a religious one, as I reflect on my life and vocation since high school, it did indeed capture what I believed to be true, and it conveys what has been my motivation for the last 22 years.
My name is Father Jesse Burish and I’m a Newman graduate from the class of 2000. I currently serve as the pastor of Notre Dame, Holy Ghost, and St. Bridget Parishes, informally known as Our Lady of the Falls Catholic Community, in Chippewa Falls. I’ve also been serving as Dean of the Chippewa Falls Deanery, where I continue to be engaged in the good work of Catholic education in our diocese with McDonell Area Catholic Schools.
After I graduated from Newman High School, I went to study architecture at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Being an architect had been my dream career since I was in the seventh grade. As much as I was determined to carry out that dream, however, I still felt the Lord at times pulling at my heart as the idea of priesthood was brought up by various priests and teachers at Newman who asked me to consider it. By the end of my second year of college in Milwaukee, I realized that I needed to further explore the possibility that I had a priestly vocation. If I was indeed being invited by God to this, I concluded, I should not procrastinate. The following fall I entered college seminary to better discern what God was asking me to do. To make a long story short, I had enough peace to complete college seminary and go onto major seminary in Rome. By God’s grace, I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse on June 27th, 2009.
Reflecting on it, what drew me most to the priesthood was a growing fascination with the mystery of the Mass, and the growing sense that the priesthood had an impact on the world that was eternal and transcended my own personal skills, abilities, and plans. I remembered from the prayer of St. John Henry Newman, which my classmates and I committed to memory our freshman year of high school that “God has created me to do him some definite service.” For every person that service is different. We must strive to listen to God, be open to his will, and consider what matters most in eternity, i.e., what the best use of our life is, and what in the service of God outlasts it.