The first session began with the singing of Psalm 119, 79, and 80 and continued with a reading from chapter five of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Afterwards the Diocesan Postulator, His Excellency the Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Titular Archbishop of Lead, opened the Canonical Session by greeting His Eminence and reading the supplex libellus, a biography of Father Tolton and a petition to the Cardinal to appoint an ecclesiastical court for the necessary trial to examine Father Tolton’s life.
The Promoter of Justice examined the supplex libellus and Cardinal George accepted the petition and asked Bishop Perry and the members of the court, followed by the members of the historical and theological commissions, to take the following oath with their hand on the Book of Gospels, under the direction of the Archdiocesan Chancellor:
In the name of God, Amen. I, N., appointed as N. for the Cause of Beatification and Canonization, on the life, virtues, reputation of sanctity of the Servant of God, Father Augustus Tolton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and carefully execute the duty committed to me, and I shall refrain from saying or doing anything that could directly or indirectly be an obstacle to the truth or justice demanded of these proceedings, nor anything that could limit the freedom of my task, so help me God and these holy gospels which I touch with my hand.
Cardinal George then spoke briefly on the proceedings of the day, reminding those gathered in St. James Chapel of the Quigley Archdiocesan Center that “history is what God remembers.”
The beginning of the canonical trial of the life of Father Tolton, he said, “is a moment that calls us all to remember the ways in which we are called to be saints.”
As we await the proof of his holiness through a miracle, His Eminence said that through miracles “we glimpse the way the world would be” without sin and that through a miracle God will “show that it is his cause, too.”
He went on to say that faith leads to affliction and affliction leads to love; such a process is proof that God is at work. “In our addressing of afflictions,” he said, “there can be no self-righteousness. This was the pattern of Augustine Tolton’s life.”
Cardinal George said that he accepted Bishop Perry’s petition, made on behalf of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago and of the faithful of the Dioceses of Jefferson City and of Springfield in Illinois, because he saw Father Tolton to be a man of joy. “It was that joy that accompanied him in his affliction,” he said, “that told me here is a holy priest.”
Following his words, the congregation prayed the prayer for the cause composed by Bishop Perry:
O God, we give you thanks for your servant and priest Father Augustus Tolton, who labored among us in times of contradiction, times that were both beautiful and paradoxical. His ministry helped lay the foundation for a truly Catholic gathering of faith in our time. We stand in the shadow of his ministry. May his life continue to inspire us and imbue us with that confidence and hope that will forge a new evangelization for the Church we love.Yes, Lord, glorify your servant and give us another Saint!
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 (pray your request silently) 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. No 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. Amen.
You can follow Father Tolton's Cause here.