Exactly one year after Saint Viator High School dedicated its new wellness bar and gathering place in memory of Steve Burks, the trees on the Province Center grounds sparkled with color.

Steve Burks

What’s the connection? Burks, who had served as Buildings and Grounds Director for the high school — and the Province Center — had selected many of those trees, hoping to fill the campus with lush color each spring and fall.

“What I look for is color,” says Burks, who supervised the Province Center grounds for 15 years, and the Saint Viator High School campus for more than 35 years.

He passed away in January, 2022 and on April 23, 2023, Saint Viator High School dedicated Burks Place in his memory. The Viatorians also planted a red oak tree on the Province Center grounds, with a marker dedicated to Burks.

“He was more like a partner than an employee,” said Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV. “He loved the school, he loved the Province Center, he loved the people.”

Newer Easter redbud trees offer a pop of purple amid the grounds.

Burks’ imprint on the grounds continues to bear fruit. Each year, after surveying damage done to the trees by the winter, Burks would choose new ones to replace them, looking for ones that would add color to the landscape. With its rolling land set back off of busy Euclid Avenue — dotted with close to 100 trees and mature garden beds of perennials and annuals — it offers a sense of peace and serenity to all who visit.

Some of Burks’ favorites included autumn blaze maples, scarlet oak trees, common bald cypress trees, prairie fire crabapple trees, heritage river birch trees and Eastern redbuds, that are small, native Illinois trees that bloom with pink/purple flowers each spring.

The lush grounds reflect the rich farmland and orchards that Viatorians purchased more than 60 years ago and converted it into their Province Center, and its namesake high school on the northern edge of the property.

As a religious community, Viatorians are committed to caring for our common home, and the nature sanctuary that comes alive before their eyes reminds them daily of the magnificence of God’s creation.