The child of slaves, Fr. Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) was the first African American priest ordained to serve the Church in the United States. Facing predjudice and discrimination in his hometown of Quincy, Illinois, Fr. Tolton was assigned to the Archdiocese of Chicago. There, Fr. Tolton first led a missionary effort to African American Catholics in the basement of St. Mary's Church. Later, he founded St. Monica's Catholic Church at the corner of 36th and Dearborn on Chicago's South Side. The Church grew to have 600 parishioners.
Fr. Tolton's cause for canonization has been presented by the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has now been honored as a Servant of God.
In the month of February, as the nation celebrations Black History, take some time to share the story of Fr. Augustus Tolton with your students.
Several resources, including a detailed biography and videos on his life and the cause for sainthood, are available at a website devoted to his canonization. The video Father Augustus Tolton: The Cause for Canonization was prepared by the Archdiocese of Chicago.