Augustus Tolton

Augustus Tolton – April 1, 1854 to July 9, 1897 (Biography adapted from Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood, Michael R. Heinlen, editor)


Augustus Tolton was the first publicly acknowledged Black diocesan priest from the United States. Tolton was denied entry into any of the seminaries within the United States and was forced to pursue studies for the priesthood in Rome. After his ordination in 1886, Father Tolton asked to serve as a missionary in Africa, hoping to escape the racism in his native land. Instead, Father Tolton was told to return to Quincy, Illinois, which is where he and his mother fled to after being released from enslavement in Missouri. As a pastor in Quincy, IL, Tolton endured the racist attitudes and actions of the local white Catholic clergy and parishioners. In 1889, Archbishop Patrick Feehan of Chicago invited Tolton to minister to the city’s Black Catholics. By 1894, Father Tolton had built and developed St. Monica, a Black Catholic parish of about 600 people. St. Monica became a national beacon for Black Catholic ministry in the United States.


Tolton’s cause for Canonization was opened in 2010, and Tolton was declared Venerable by Pope Francis in 2019.


Canonization prayer for Father Augustus Tolton – Provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago, IL


Father in Heaven, Father Tolton’s suffering service sheds light upon our sorrows; we see them through the prism of your Son’s passion and death. If it be your Will, O God, glorify your servant, Father Tolton, by granting the favor I now request through his intercession (mention your request) so that all may know the goodness of this priest whose memory looms large in the Church he loved.


Complete what you have begun in us that we might work for the fulfillment of your kingdom. Not to us the glory, but glory to you O God, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are our God, living and reigning forever and ever.


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