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Beatification push for first African-American priest from the United States

2016-06-04


The Archdiocese of Chicago advocates for the beatification of the first African-American priest in the United States, who spent his pastoral time in Quincy, Illinois.

VANESSA WHITE
Director, Tolton Pastoral Ministry 
"As a priest in Quincy, he was known to be very pastoral. He was known to preach about hope; he preached about forgiveness; he preached about the church being open to all.” 

He was born a slave and forbidden to enter seminary in the United States, experiencing the prejudice of the time. The Franciscans arranged for him to attend seminary in Rome, Italy, and then sent him back to a segregated America at age 32 to pastor a church in Illinois. 

At a time when African-Americans were celebrating mass in a basement of a "white” church, he was one of the first priests who joined both Caucasians and African-Americans in the same mass. 

BISHOP JOSEPH PERRY 
Diocesan Postulator for the Cause 
"As far as the African-American community is concerned, he's one of us. And he's the link with our ancestors who obviously bore the brunt of slavery and struggled to obtain freedom in our democracy.” 

In 2010, Cardinal Francis George asked the Vatican to consider Fr. Tolton for sainthood, and they began a four-year research project of his life before sending the sealed and stamped dossier to the Vatican in 2014. As of now, the Vatican holds all documents necessary to declare Tolton a saint and Chicago must be patient and wait for the final word from Pope Francis.

TODD WILLIAMSON
Director, Chicago office for Divine Worship
"I think that the cause for the canonization of Fr. Augustus is a wonderful opportunity for us, the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago.” 

However, it is not only the people of Chicago who would benefit from Fr. Tolton's story. He is an example of someone who perservered and advocated for unity in times of hatred and division, which are still ever-present in our world today. 

Courtesy: Archdiocese of Chicago

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Archdiocese of Chicago
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