03 July 2018

Another pilgrimage procession to Father Tolton's grave

When I was nearing the completion of my studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University two years ago, I realized that the date of my departure from the Eternal City and my return to the Gem City nearly coincided with the date of Father Tolton's return to Quincy from Rome, only 130 years later. So it was that I organized a small pilgrimage to his grave for the celebration of Vespers.

The group of pilgrims who braved the heat to honor our beloved Father Gus enjoyed the day evening so much that they asked for another pilgrimage the next year. Looking for another occasion to mark, we made the same pilgrimage last year in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of his death on July 9, 1897.

I have again been asked to lead a pilgrimage to his grave again this year to commemorate the anniversary of his death, which I am happy to do. Because July 9th falls on a Monday this year, we will have our pilgrimage procession on Sunday, July 8th. The details are as follows, as detailed in a press release:
PHOTO: Gretchen Mason
QUINCY - Area Catholics and others devoted to the Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton will commemorate the 121st anniversary of the death of Father Tolton with a pilgrimage procession on Sunday, July 8th. Father Tolton died in Chicago on July 9, 1897 and is interred in St. Peter Cemetery in Quincy, where he was raised and from which he left to study for the priesthood in Rome. He returned to Quincy as a priest in 1886 and ministered in the Gem City until he left for Chicago in 1889. Father Tolton has been proposed for sainthood and the Cause for his Canonization continues.
The pilgrimage procession will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the statue of Father Tolton outside St. Peter Catholic School at 2500 Maine Street. After a few words of welcome and explanation, followed by a prayer, the pilgrimage procession will process along the south side of Maine Street where it will cross onto the east side of South 33rd Street. It will then process along the east side of South 33rd Street until it reaches St. Peter Catholic Cemetery.
After entering the cemetery, the procession will stop at the grave of Father Tolton for the celebration of Evening Prayer at 4:30 p.m., which is composed of Psalms, a reading from Scripture, petitions, and song. After Evening Prayer, the pilgrims will pray for more priests through Father Tolton’s intercession and for his canonization as a saint.
The pilgrimage procession will conclude with the singing of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” Father Tolton’s favorite song.
Those who wish to participate in the Evening Prayer but cannot walk in the procession are invited to park near the cemetery to meet the procession at the grave; because of the small size of the cemetery, no one should park in the cemetery itself.

Chairs and bottled water will be provided at the cemetery for those who wish to participate in the Evening Prayer.
Father Dominic Rankin has gratefully accepted an invitation to preach during the Evening Prayer. It seems this pilgrimage is likely to become an annual event, if it has not already become so.

I hope you will be able to join us for this pilgrimage procession. The forecast is already showing signs of improvement and has a of 85 degrees on Sunday. If that holds true, it should be a lovely afternoon!

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