Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, celebrates Mass at the burial place of Venerable Father Augustus Tolton in St. Peter Cemetery in Quincy, Illinois, on July 9, 2022, the 125th anniversary of Fr. Tolton’s death in Chicago.
Born into a family of enslaved people and baptized in 1854 in St. Peter Church in Brush Creek, Missouri, in what is now part of the Diocese of Jefferson City, young Augustus escaped with his family to Quincy during the Civil War. He overcame overwhelming obstacles toward becoming the Roman Catholic Church’s first recognizably Black priest in the United States.
He was ordained in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome in 1886 and ministered with great courage and pastoral sensitivity in Quincy and then in Chicago until his death.
He is under serious consideration for being declared a saint.
Several hundred people took part in the 125th-anniversary procession from St. Peter Church in Quincy to the cemetery, followed by Mass concelebrated with several priests of the Springfield diocese.
Bishop Paprocki in his homily urged the faithful to emulate Fr. Tolton’s long-suffering patience, as well as the courageous, obedient and loving way he carried out his mission.
The bishop also asked everyone to pray for recognizable miracles that are attributable to God through Fr. Tolton’s intercession in heaven, in order for him to be declared Blessed and eventually, God willing, a Saint. (69 photos)