Northern Illinois Food Bank Mourns Founder Sister Rosemarie Burian

Northern Illinois Food Bank Mourns Founder Sister Rosemarie Burian

Sister Rosmarie Burian and Jim Truesdale in 2013.

Geneva-based Northern Illinois Food Bank‘s founder, Sister Rosemarie Burian, died peacefully on Sunday (Sept. 22, 2019). She was 83.

Burian, who was “called to have a food bank” in May 1982, set in motion a movement to feed the hungry of her community. Just six months later, she and a team of volunteers and supporters incorporated Bethlehem Center in Carol Stream, which eventually became Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Though she moved on to other work in 1986, Burian continued to serve the organization as part of its Emeritus Board.

Jim Truesdale, fellow Emeritus Board member and president of the first Board of Directors, Bethlehem Center, said he felt privileged to have known Burian and to have been involved in the formation of the Food Bank.

“Sister Rosemarie was a gentle force, inspiring everyone she met to action by serving the needs of others: if not us, who? If not now, when? If not for the kingdom, why?” he said. “(We) continue to be influenced by her every day.”

Sister Rosmarie Burian in 1983.

Burian’s passion was to help the “hidden poor” of DuPage County. She often recounted that people found it hard to believe that there were hungry people in the relative wealth and prosperity of the area.

Julie Yurko, Northern Illinois Food Bank president and CEO, said Burian is “a testament to the will of one person to step out in courage, just like our neighbors do every day.”

“She not only provided food, but also provided inspiration for people,” she said.

Burian fought for years against the stigmas of hunger and poverty.

“You can think, ‘Oh, this community has money,’ but there is always another side of the story,” Yurko said. “I wish I had recorded the number of times someone said they never thought it could happen to them.”

Dennis Smith, former executive director and CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank, said Burian believed that no one should go without food.

“On several occasions she visited the Food Bank while I was CEO,” he said. “Her singular concern was if we were providing enough food for our hungry neighbors. Sr. Rosemarie involved entire communities in the fight against hunger. The memory of her actions and leadership will continue to influence us even now that she is no longer with us.”

Yurko said Burian will always be remembered.

“(Her legacy is) the power of deep caring and love for one’s community, and that she loved people and trusted God,” she said.

View the full obituary here.

Visitation/Memory Service

  • When: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019), with Memory Service at 4 p.m.
  • Where: Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, 26W171 Roosevelt Road, Wheaton, Entrance #5

Mass of Christian Burial

  • When: 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2019
  • Where: Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, 26W171 Roosevelt Road, Wheaton, Entrance #5

FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION: Sister Rosemarie Burian (left) with Northern Illinois Food Bank President and CEO Julie Yurko

About Northern Illinois Food Bank

Northern Illinois Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is a non-profit organization that engages the community to solve hunger in Northern Illinois.

Since 1983, food manufacturers, local grocers, corporations, foundations, and individuals have come together to donate food and funds, and evaluate and repack food for distribution to more than 900 community food pantries and feeding programs serving more than half a million hungry neighbors every year across 13 counties.

That commitment provided nearly 69.1 million meals to those in need in FY19.

Northern Illinois Food Bank has centers in Geneva (West Suburban Center), Park City (North Suburban Center) Rockford (Northwest Center), and Joliet (South Suburban Center). Find out how you can volunteer, donate or get involved at, or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

SOURCE: Northern Illinois Food Bank news release