Biography - Henry Becker

REV. HENRY BECKER, D. D., a widely known and highly esteemed priest of Southern Illinois, and for many years an arduous laborer in various parishes of the State, is now the spiritual adviser of the Roman Catholic Church in Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Ill. His presence is a familiar one in scenes of sorrow and distress, especially among the members of his own congregation, but he is a public-spirited man, liberal in sentiment, and, desiring the mutual welfare of the entire community which surrounds him, has won the confidence and respect of all good citizens, irrespective of church or party affiliations.
Father Becker was born in Westphalia, Germany, July 1, 1856. His father, Henry Becker, and his mother, Elizabeth (Behrens) Becker, were both natives of the province which gave our subject birth. In the home of their infancy they passed their quiet, uneventful life, nor wished for change. They were the parents of five sons and five daughters. The little ones were early trained to habits of industry and thrift. When old enough the children went to school, and regularly attended the parish church, and soon the daughters shared the mother's duties and the sons assisted the father in his daily work.
Four children of this German home have passed away. The living sons and daughters are Sophia, who early consecrated her life to religious duties, and is now a Sister of Charity in Belgium; Anna, who devotes her life to the education of the young, and is now a teacher in the public schools in Germany; Elizabeth is in Minneapolis, and like her eldest sister has entered upon a religious life as a Sister of Charity; Maria is also a member of a religious order and a Sister of Charity in Namur, Belgium; Herman, a man of business in Chicago; and Henry, the parish priest of Hillsboro.
From early youth Henry Becker was a studious boy, of strong religious inclinations, and at the proper age began a course of preparation for the priesthood. He readily acquired the Latin tongue and afterward studied mental philosophy in Belgium. He then resolved to complete the higher course in America, which he had long before decided to make his future field of labor. Journeying safely across the Atlantic, he landed in New York, September 25, 1875. He tarried not long in the United States, but soon proceeded to his destination, Montreal, Canada, where he entered the Grand Seminary, and took the four-year theological course.
Father Becker graduated with honor as Doctor of Theology in 1879. He was ordained priest December 20 of the same year, and was then assigned to Illinois, Diocese of Alton. His first parish was in Mound City, and he also ministered to the needs of Metropolis, Stone Fort and Harrisburg. He remained with this charge one year and was then sent to Mt. Vernon, his religious duties also including the pastoral work in Okawville and McLeansborough. His next parish was in Kaskaskia, Randolph County, the oldest settlement in the Mississippi Valley. He remained one year, and then on account of sickness was sent to Grantfort, Madison County, where he was stationed a year.
Our subject had now for five years faithfully gone his wearying round, answering with his cheerful presence the constant demands of accident, sickness and death. He was over-worked and, finally obliged on account of his health to take a rest, visited the Fatherland. Old friends and neighbors greeted him; his father was yet alive, but his mother was gone from the old home to "a house not made with hands." At three-score years and ten she had entered into rest.
In 1885, Father Becker, with health restored, was assigned the pastoral charge of the church at Vandalia, with charge also of Greenville and Ramsey. In 1888 he assumed charge of the church at Hillsboro, and also officiated as priest at Gillespie, performing his varied duties with unabated energy and conscientious diligence. In 1890 he went again to Europe, this time journeying to Rome, whose grandeur and magnificence never cease to employ the pen and pencil of author and artist.
Fifty families attend the Catholic Church of Hillsboro and since our subject took charge he has aided in clearing off a debt of $700 and is now erecting a building (a residence for the parish priest) to cost $2000. Father Becker's undoubted business ability is of great value to the parish, whose religious interests are his first thought.

Extracted 04 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, page 191-192.

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