CHICAGO (CNS) — Father Augustine Tolton was the first U.S. priest of African descent and may one day be a saint from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The archdiocese is introducing the priest’s cause for canonization, according to an announcement by Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George.
“It is appropriate that, during this Year for Priests, we recall our forebears who were holy men in the presbyterate” of the archdiocese, the cardinal told the Catholic New World, Chicago archdiocesan newspaper.
Having Father Tolton as a saint would be a blessing for the whole Catholic Church but, in particular, for Catholics in Chicago, he said.
“First of all, saints intercede,” he said. “We need his prayers and his help, especially to become a more united church. Secondly, his example of priestly dedication, his learning and preaching, are great examples for our seminarians and priests and should inspire the laity.”
Father Tolton was born into slavery in Brush Creek, Mo., according to “From Slave to Priest,” a biography of Father Tolton by Sister Caroline Hemesath, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family.