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 with the image of the church in the banner above taken on that day. 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, Fr. Bob Sims and our current pastor, Msgr. Pierre-Philippe Jean-Pierre, who joined us in June 2022.
History of the Stained glass windows
The stained glass window project was initiated by Father Dennis Noon, who was pastor of St. John the Baptist Church at the time.
The windows were installed in 1990/1991 by Bullas Glass Ltd., of Kitchener, Ontario, with each window being donated by a parish organization or individuals within the parish.
The ten large stained glass windows depict scenes from Jesus’ life. The scenes in a clock-wise sequence represent the following:
- The archangel, Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Virgin Mary.
- The Nativity. Jesus is born in Bethlehem.
- The twelve year old Jesus among the Jewish teachers in the temple.
- Jesus calls the fisherman, Simon (Peter) to follow him.
- Jesus is teaching about His Kingdom.
- Crucifixion of Jesus.
- Glorious Resurrection.
- Ascension of Jesus.
- The coming of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost.
- The ever living Church of the faithful.