Fr. Robert Burns, O.P. Ph.D.


Fr. Robert Burns, O.P. Ph.D.

Fr. Robert Burns, a visitor over the past 50 years to Los Lunas/Los Lentes, N.M. died in Tucson, Ariz., on June 6, 2022.

During times spent with the Guggino family, Fr. Burns “Fa” offered Christmas Eve mass at the San Antonio Mission Church in Los Lentes. He also officiated at local First Holy Communions, Weddings and Baptisms.

At the University of Arizona, he was known as professor or Dr. Burns. There, he founded the Religious Studies Department, where, during an award winning 45-year career, he taught a variety of classes in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, among others, firmly establishing an ecumenical environment. He was also on staff at the St. Thomas More Newman Center in Tucson.

Fr. Burns was born to Harold and Veronica Curran Burns in Oak Park, Ill., on Sept. 9, 1934. He was ordained a Dominican priest on June 3, 1961, and was stationed at The Aquinas Newman Center at the University of New Mexico until he was sent to study at the University of Iowa, where, in 1970, he completed a doctorate in Protestant Theology.

Dr. Burns authored five books on past and present-day theology (mostly written in New Mexico), and he remained an avid Chicago White Sox fan for his entire life.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Harold (Jan) Burns; and his sister, Nancy (Kevin Costello).

He is survived by his brother, Richard (Carol) Burns, of Flower Mound, Texas; many nieces, nephews, students and friends nation-wide upon whose lives he had an everlasting and uplifting impact.

A Funeral Mass of celebration was held on June 14, 2022, at the University of Arizona’s St. Thomas More Newman Center.

Fr. Burns’ soul was accompanied to eternity with the melodies of bagpipes played by his nephews, Sean and Brian Costello. As he requested, his ashes will be interred at the San Antonio de Los Lentes Cemetery.

A celebration of Fa’s life will be held there on what would have been his 88th birthday, Sept. 9, 2022.

For those who wish to honor his memory donations may be made to UA Foundation/Robert A. Burns Endowment at The University of Arizona, Attn: Karen K. Seat, Ph.D. Development Office College of Humanities, P.O. Box 210067 Tucson, Ariz., 85721-0067; or to donate online, go to These funds ensure the continuation of ecumenical activities so dear to Fr. Burns’ heart.

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