Father Burtle

Reverend Ernest A. Burtle was born on October 17, 1895, in Glenarm, Illinois. He was educated at Georgetown University and Kenrick Seminary, Webster Grove, Missouri. Fr. Burtle was ordained June 10, 1923, in the Chapel Seminary, Webster Grove, Missouri, by Most Reverend John J. Glennon. Fr. Burtle was appointed assistant at Mattoon, Illinois, July 1, 1923 and Professor and Director of Discipline at Routt College, Jacksonville, Illinois, October 1, 1925.

On July 26, 1927, Reverend Ernest A. Burtle was appointed administrator of St. Barbara Parish. Realizing the good that comes from contact with the people particularly with the children, Father Burtle a few days after his arrival at St. Barbara, got in touch with the Springfield Playground and Recreation Commission, and arranged to have the extensive grounds belonging to the parish turned into a public playground for evening recreation for young and old. Accordingly, volleyballs, baseballs, horseshoes and other games were provided. The Commission sent two instructors to the playground on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings of each week to supervise the playground. The playground was opened each evening except Sunday, with the men of the parish taking turns in acting as overseers. The grounds were beautifully lighted, and provided a nightly rendezvous for young and old.

With the temporal welfare of the children cared for, Father Burtle began looking more carefully into the spiritual. This was difficult because of the large territory of the parish. Father Burtle sought the aid of the Catholic Instruction League, a group of lay men and women who taught the catechism to children. The result was that instead of focusing his efforts upon the members of his parish only, with the aid of the catechists of the League and Father E.J. Cahill, head of the League, began giving catechetical instruction in six different centers to Catholic children from all over the Northend of Springfield.

On Sunday, July 31, 1927, a three day mission for all the children under instruction opened at St. Barbara with a solemn field Mass celebrated under a huge tent on the playground. Five hundred children attended. Father Burtle was celebrant of the Mass. Reverend John Gerst, S.J., of St. Louis University, and Reverend J. L. Scott, S.J., of Rockhurst College, Kansas City, Kansas, conducted the mission with the aid of the catechists of the Catholic Instruction League. The children were. The average attendance each day was about four hundred children, most of them were brought to St. Barbara each day in busses from what is now St. Aloysius Parish.

Shortly after the arrival of Bishop James A. Griffin in Springfield in 1924, the Bishop became aware of the fact that eventually there would have to be two new parishes established in the city, one in the southwest, the other in the northeast section of the city. For this reason he bought two pieces of property on the same day and Blessed Sacrament Parish was started in the southwest area. For four years nothing was done with the property on Sangamon Avenue. In 1928 Father Burtle, as Director of the Catholic Instruction League, was directed by Bishop Griffin to move four portable buildings donated by the Springfield Board of Education to the Sangamon Avenue property to be used for the instruction of the children of that area.

On August 1, 1928, Bishop Griffin authorized Father Burtle to establish St. Aloysius Parish at 20th Street and Sangamon Avenue. Holy Mass was offered for the first time on September 9 and the formal opening of the new parish was held on September 30, 1928. As Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish Father Burtle oversaw the building of the first combined Church and School in 1931 and the building of the first Rectory.

Then came the depression. Most of the people of St. Aloysius Parish were out of work and many were actually suffering. It was during these years that Father Burtle proved himself to be a real father to the poor. He went from home to home giving consolation and whatever material aid he could. In the spring of 1938 Father Burtle, physically and mentally exhausted, with the approval of Bishop Griffin, resigned his pastorate to spend a year at the Trappist Monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky.

Father Ernest A. Burtle died on February 9, 1956, just three days before the Charter of Knights of Columbus Council 4175, which would be named in his honor.