19 February 2007

The first black priest in America

As the United States celebrates "Black History Month" I am rather surprised at how little I have heard about Fr. Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in America.

In all actuality, I have heard nothing about him this month. His life is very interesting and would make for an excellent video to show on, I don't know, EWTN? Let's get to work!

Through the generosity of the good citizens of Quincy, Illinois - my home - Fr. Tolton was sent to study at the Propaganda in Rome before returning to the United States to serve in Quincy and in Chicago. His life is intimately woven into the history of America and the struggle with slavery and civil rights.

Last week I had my students read two synopses of Fr. Tolton's life and write a reflection on them. One of the students said, "As the first black Catholic priest [in the United States], Tolton should receive more textbook space." I couldn't agree more!

You can learn more about Fr. Tolton here. Fr. Roy Bauer has an excellent biography of the priest here.

Sr. Caroline Hemesath published a biography of Fr. Tolton several decades ago which is now being republished by Ignatius Press.
Fr. Augustine Tolton, pray for us!


  1. Anonymous7:27 PM

    ewtn has run the documentary on his life many times

  2. Can you provide anything further?

    I've looked on the web site and can find nothing. Searching the religious catalogue also reveals nothing.

    I've been watching EWTN quite a bit more this month than usual and have also heard nothing mentioned about Fr. Tolton.