Let ’em Speak On It: Notable Quotes From Black Catholics 1 (Black Catholic History Month 2019) [New Article-Series!]
This is the very first edition of a new article-series I am starting called “Let ’em Speak On It: Notable Quotes From Black Catholics.” This series is simply posts featuring a quote said either by or at least in relation to Black/African Catholics and Black Catholicism. The quote itself maybe be from a historical figure/document or a current one. Because Black Catholics come at the Faith from a unique and important angle it’s only right if you “let ’em speak on it.” Sometimes I might offer a brief thought on the featured quote, and sometimes I will simply it speak for itself. At the end I will add a small bio about who the person/document is and provide a link or two to more information. For all throughout Black Catholic History Month I will post them every Monday.
Without further ado here’s the very first featured quote of Let ’em Speak On It article-series, and it comes from one of the patrons of my apostolate.
“The Catholic Church deplores a double slavery – that of the mind and that of the body. She endeavors to free us of both. I was a poor slave boy but the priests of the Church did not disdain me. It was through the influence of one of them that I became what I am tonight. I must now give praise to that son of the Emerald Isle, Father Peter McGirr, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Quincy, who promised me that I would be educated and who kept his word. It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors… it was through the direction of a Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Herlinde, that I learned to interpret the Ten Commandments; and then I also beheld for the first time the glimmering light of truth and the majesty of the Church. In this Church we do not have to fight for our rights because we are black. She had colored saints – Augustine, Benedict the Moor, Monica. The Church is broad and liberal. She is the Church for our people.”
– Venerable Father Augustus Tolton
And this is one I will let speak for itself.
Background of Ven. Fr. Augustus Tolton
Venerable Father Augustus Tolton 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
More on Tolton:
My website’s Black Saint/Holy Ones info page on him and canonization cause page.