St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church
Our first Catholic Church was built in Hampshire, thirteen years after the Civil War ended, during the summer of 1878. It sat at the corner of Jefferson and Warner Streets, where our present school is located. The cost was $1,525. Before 1870, the two dozen (mostly Irish) Catholic families that lived in Burlington, Hampshire and Rutland Townships, had to travel an arduous ten miles over open fields and down rutted mud roads to attend Mass at the Mission Churches in Sycamore or Huntley. In the mid 1870's, a wave of Catholics from the Province of Alsace, France moved into the area and Burlington residents Philip Schulz and Ursus Factly opened their homes to their German speaking neighbors for Sunday services. Each home was equipped with an altar in the parlor and Fr. William Deleporte would travel on horseback from Naperville to say Mass in German.
In 1877, both nationalities agreed a local church was needed, and permission was granted by the Chicago Diocese for a new church to be built in the Village of Hampshire because it was centrally located between the parishes of St. Mary's in Sycamore and St. Mary's in Huntley. Our first pastor was Fr. Peter Gormley (whom we shared with St. Mary's Parish in Huntley) but it was our second pastor, Fr. Charles Rosenbaurer, who in 1878, named our parish St. Charles Borromeo, after his patron saint. This was also a way to keep harmony in his congregation, which was equally divided between the Irish (who wanted to name the church after St. Patrick) and the German speaking Alssatians (who wanted to name the church after St. Joseph).
In 1879, Fr. Rosenbaurer (who continued to live in Chicago and visited his Hampshire parish only twice a month) built the first parsonage for the parish and acquired the land for our Catholic Cemetery, south of the Village on Getzelman Road. In 1881, Fr. Andrew Michaels became our first resident pastor and on June 7, 1908, Fr. Casper Huth (assigned to our parish in April of 1885) laid the cornerstone of our present church. The new red brick, Gothic style church was designed by the architect Herman Gaul of Chicago and was constructed for a cost of $25,000. The old church was then remodeled into a social center and renamed the "Forester Hall." In July of 1915, Fr. Charles Mertens became the pastor and it was at this time the beautiful 'Munich' stained glass windows were installed in the church.
In 1917, a movement in the parish for a church in Burlington was started and land was acquired near the corner of Main Street and French Road for a new church. Masses were said for a short time in the upper floor of the Burlington Grade School, but this future plan for a Burlington church never materialized after French Road was paved and transportation to and from Hampshire was improved.
In 1928, the old church (Forester Hall) was torn down and our parochial school was built on the site. It opened on September 16, 1929 under the tutelage of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. In 1962, a new addition doubled the size of our school and in 1975, a new rectory for the parish was built. In 1982, a major remodeling and redecoration of the church was done and in 1984, Bishop Arthur J. O'Neill rededicated our church.
2003 brought the 125th Anniversary of our parish, with a year long celebration. In 2004, we were fortunate in purchasing the 25 acre land site adjacent to our cemetery in preparation for future growth. We began our Laying the Cornerstone Capital Campaign for the building of a new church in 2006 and continue today in that endeavor.
The existing church stands as a testament to those Catholics before us, as they sacrificed to ensure that our community would have a beautiful building to give glory to God. Today, we are on the threshold of laying a new cornerstone that will carry on our Sacred Traditions.
Now, our faith put into action will ensure that generations to come will have a holy place in which to worship: a house of God in which to celebrate Mass, to baptize our children, to give and be given in marriage and to mourn the loss of loves ones who have passed on in the faith.
The church we build will not only inspire us to greater communion with God, it will also serve, as our current building has, as a center of influence for our entire community. It will be the gathering place for catechesis, faith formation and Sacraments. It will be a welcoming, open haven for friendships, fellowship, community building and fun.
Our faith touches every aspect of our lives. Our church structure is a reflection of that faith. It serves as a symbol of our fidelity to Christ's call to carry on His sacred tradition of evangelizing the hearts and minds of people into His Father's house.