Community prays for miracle for Canisius HS grad

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Every school day there’s a mass at 7:45 a.m. for students at Canisius High School. Friday’s mass had a special meaning, as students prayed for Nolan Burch.yearbook

Burch, an 18-year-old freshman at West Virginia University, graduated from Canisius High School. He’s in the hospital in critical condition after an incident at college.

Canisius Campus Minister Father Fred Betti said, “Today is a difficult day for us because Nolan obviously faced a tragic situation.”

The Canisius High School Community is leaning on faith and hoping for a miracle.

Canisius High School Senior Patrick Viola said, “It became so real, so fast and really hard to deal with.”

Viola played lacrosse with Burch. Viola was a year younger and always looked up to him.

He explained, “Everyone seemed to gravitate to him. He could instantly light up a room with a joke, or he was just a loud kid.”

Father Betti echoed those feelings, saying Burch was known for being popular and involved in activities, hockey being his favorite.

Father Betti called him a “wonderful young man full of life, full of mischievous and fun.”

Fun, a word used repeatedly to describe Burch.  In fact in the Canisius High School yearbook, his favorite quote is from comedian Will Ferrell. “Hey, they laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was gonna go to the moon. Now he’s up there laughing at them.”

Less than a year after graduating, the Canisius community is left praying for Burch.

“His family is with him and a number of his classmates drove all night to be there to be with his family.”

The reality of his situation is hard to accept for his Canisius community.

Father Betti said, “You try to prepare young people for the world and you hope you do a good job, but we always have to be prepared for when things don’t happen that way.”

Viola said the last time he saw Burch was at Burch’s graduation party, when he was anxious to head off to college.

Viola said, “Before this happened I would have told him one more time, and stressed being safe and being careful in college. Obviously he was a fun kid, he was outgoing, he loved to have fun, just like everyone does, but I would have told him to be safe one more time.”

Viola says he first learned about Nolan’s condition through social media and after school mass on Thursday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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