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The Burke Women by Artist Bradford Johnson

The Thomas C. Burke Foundation

Born in New York in 1856, Thomas C. Burke moved to Macon with his Irish parents, Christopher and Catharine, at the young age of four. Thomas’s immediate family, as well as the family he began with Mary Bessman of Augusta, G.A., were both founding members of St. Joseph Catholic Church. Thomas’s family is attributed to several stained glass windows within the church (Christ with the Crown of Thorns; Our Lady of Sorrows; and The Annunciation).

Thomas was one of five owners of the Academy of Music in Macon and owner of the T.C. Burke Company, a building supply house. His connections to Mount de Sales Academy were many. His sister, Maggie, entered the Sisters of Mercy as a postulate in July, 1882 and was professed three years later as Sister Mary Ligouri. According to the Southern Cross archives, “The greater part of her more than half-century of life as a religious was spent at Mt. de Sales Academy, where she endeared herself to generations of students from every state in the Union.”

Thomas’s daughters and Sister Mary Liguori’s nieces, Mary Henrietta and Martina, both graduated from Mount de Sales in the early 1900s. Thomas also attended to all the legal business of the Mount de Sales convent.

Mary and Martina were “closely identified with the civic, social, and cultural life of Macon.” Neither sister married and they lived together for years at 1085 Georgia Avenue, very near the campus.

Upon their deaths, the sisters’ estate established the Thomas C. Burke Foundation in memory of their father, and since its inception in the mid-1960s, the foundation has supported the Academy. The Burke Foundation has assisted with many projects from the building of Burke Hall in 1977 to general support of the Academy.

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties.  MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.