Cardinal Burke was born in Richland Center on June 30, 1948.
He was ordained a Priest on June 29, 1975 for La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. On December 10, 1994 he was appointed Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA, and was odrained Bishop on January 6, 1995. He was officially installed as the Bishop of La Crosse on February 22, 1995.
On December 2, 2003 he was appointed Archbishop of Saint Louis, Missouri, USA, and was installed there on January 26, 2004. A few years later, on June 27, 2008, he was appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, a position that he ceased on February 28, 2013 upon the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.
He was elevated to Cardinal on November 20, 2010 and appointed Cardinal-Deacon of Sant’Agata de’ Goti. His installation took place on February 5, 2011.