Under his leadership, two new religious communities of women complemented the work of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Fr. Burns went out of his way to acquire resources to ensure that students at Notre Dame experienced an authentic Catholic education. In 1959 he said, “To succeed in life is not equivalent to achieving a successful career. A student may, by natural talent and industry, attain eminence in his or her profession and yet may prove a failure in life. For a career is not an end but a means. A livelihood is not life, though a sufficiency of material goods is necessary to live. A person may succeed as a doctor or lawyer or engineer and yet fail as a child of God. To fail in the eyes of God is to fail in life.”
In 1966 Father Burns became the second principal at Denis Morris. He promoted DM to St. Catharines residents as the pioneer co-educational Catholic high school there and as a powerhouse of faith, academic and athletic prowess.
At a time in life when ordinary mortals are contemplating retirement, Father Burns accepted the Lincoln Board's request to spearhead the establishment of a second Catholic high school in St. Catharines fittingly named “Holy Cross” in honour of his religious community. He brought the same powerful, passionate, tireless leadership to his challenge as he had consistently done his whole life. The quality of education at St. Catharines' two schools became so much in demand that ultimately a third school was established in St. Catharines and a fourth in Grimsby.
After a hiatus, Father Burns returned to represent Welland in the last years of the Welland Board and later to represent the newly amalgamated Niagara Catholic District School Board. He was an informal conscience for the Board; and his expertise in Catholic secondary education led the Board to confidently endorse his vision for a newly remodeled and greatly expanded Notre Dame.
Father Burns consistently inspired others because he always walked his talk. He has been deeply admired, appreciated and loved.
Father Kenneth Burns has shaped the very fabric of Catholic education in the Niagara Region. For half a century his name has become synonymous with our tradition of excellence.