166th Anniversary of the Birth of Venerable Father Augustus Tolton
On the 166th anniversary of his birth let us learn about Venerable Father Augustus Tolton who was the first recognized African American Roman Catholic priest in United States history.
He was born into slavery in Missouri on April 1, 1854, and his family later escaped to the free state of Illinois. He was raised Catholic and later expressed desires for the priesthood. With the help of a Irish Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter McGirr, Tolton applied to various American seminaries but was rejected from every one. He then applied for studies in Rome and was accepted. Later was ordained on April 24, 1886 in Rome and was sent back to the United States. Tolton first served in Quincy, Illinois and was later reassigned to Chicago in order to minister to African American Catholics in the city. He would serve and built up the Black Catholic community there. He died on July 9, 1897. Tolton faced racial tensions and discrimination throughout his calling to the priesthood but never wavered to serve God’s Church and by his efforts helped her to be a better manifestation of her “Catholic” name in the U.S.
His Cause for sainthood is ongoing.
On February 24, 2011 Fr. Augustus Tolton’s Cause was opened by the Archdiocese of Chicago making him a Servant of God, the first step towards canonization.
On June 12, 2019, Fr. Tolton was declared Venerable by Pope Francis I, the second step towards canonization
Let us celebrate him and his birth today! God’s gift to the Church!