Saint John the Baptist Parish had very humble beginnings when a small number of Catholics among the early settlers in Burlington had travelling priests come to celebrate the Eucharist in private homes. St. John’s was later founded as a mission in 1849 and, in its’ early days, was served by a number of priests, most of whom came on horseback or horse and buggy. Parish records prior to 1925 are kept at St. Andrew’s in Oakville, Ontario.
The Ogg family of Burlington donated land and in 1861 a small rough church was constructed at the corner of Pearl and Pine Streets. This structure wasn’t much in the beginning – bare ground, a wood stove and rough boards as pews. It was later improved upon by the addition of a basement and furnace and soon electricity and running water were in place.
St. John’s officially became a parish in 1925 and the first pastor was Fr. Daniel A. Ford who remained pastor for twenty years. His successor was Fr. J. Corbett Warren who, in 1946, moved into the rectory built on Brant Street. On October 25th, 1945 a fire had broken out in the church, completely gutting the sanctuary. However, the parish celebrated its 100th anniversary there on June 11th, 1950.
In 1951, it was decided that a new church be built in order to handle the rapid growth in population. A new church building was consecrated on May 17th, 1953 in a Mass presided over by Bishop Ryan. The homily was given by the archbishop of Kingston, J.A. O’Sullivan and Cardinal James McGuigan, archbishop of Toronto visited the festivities. More than 1,000 people attended, many having to stand outside as the church seated about 450. Construction of the rectory followed in 1957. St. John school was originally built in 1948, underwent demolition in 1994 and was rebuilt and reopened in 1995.
Father Warren was made a Prelate of Honour by Pope John XXIII, earning the title of Monsignor. He was succeeded by Fr. William Sherlock, Fr. Blake J. Ryan, Fr. James Smye, Fr. Dennis J. Noon, Fr. Vincent Kerr, Fr. Francis Trzupek, Fr. Bill Trusz, Fr. James R. Mihm, Fr. Ralph C. Diodati and our current pastor, Fr. Bob Sims who joined us in June 2013. Today, the parish’s 160th anniversary has come and gone and we have grown to over 1,800 families.