Father Philip Birk, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1843-1920)

Home / Biography / Father Philip Birk, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1843-1920)

Born January 14, 1843 at Serrig near Treves, Germany he came to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his family when he was a young boy and often had the opportunity to visit the monastery on the South side. When he was approximately fourteen years of age he pleaded with Father Anthony Calandri, C.P. to enter the novitiate for the Passionists. Permission was granted and in 1858 he commenced his novitiate and professed his vows on August 16, 1859. At the age of twenty-two and one-half years he was granted a dispensation so as to be ordained a priest on July 23, 1865. He was assigned as an assistant priest at St. Michael’s Church, Pittsburgh for about two years after which he was assigned to Bulgaria as a missionary. After four years of work he returned to the United States at which time he was assigned to teach philosophy and theology. He was later pastor of St. Michael’s Monastery Parish, West Hoboken. When the provinces split in 1906 Father Birk opted to stay with the eastern province. He also gave retreats to religious and priests. In 1915 he gave two successful retreats for religious in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1918, he was feeling the effect of his age and was assigned to the monastery in Pittsburgh. He suffered a slight stroke on July 23, 1919, the fifty-fifth anniversary of his ordination. When he died he was the oldest professed priest in St. Paul of the Cross Province. He had been one of the first postulants to be received by the founding members of the province. He also translated several philosophies and wrote a history of St. Michael’s Parish, Pittsburgh.