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Cardinal George Announces Fr. Tolton Cause for Sainthood

First American Diocesan Priest of African Descent

Chicago, IL (March 17, 2010) – Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, has announced that Fr. Augustus Tolton’s cause for sainthood is being introduced in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The Cardinal has appointed Most Rev. Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, as the Postulator for the cause of Fr. Tolton.  Bishop Perry will be responsible for making Fr. Tolton better known and encouraging prayer to him. 

In his weekly Cardinal’s Network email message, Cardinal George wrote, “Many Catholics might not ever have heard of Fr. Augustus Tolton; but black Catholics most probably have.  He was the first American diocesan priest of African descent, the son of slaves. After studying in Rome, because no American seminary would accept him, he was ordained for the Diocese of Quincy, in southern Illinois, and later came to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics.  He died young, at only 43 years of age; but most priests in the nineteenth century died before their fiftieth birthday.  Visiting the sick on a daily basis was risky in an age before antibiotics.  Many priests sickened sometime in their forties and died after a period of ill health.”

Fr. Augustus Tolton was born in Missouri on April 1, 1854, and is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery near Quincy, Illinois.  Cardinal George will appoint a historical commission needed to assemble the facts about Fr. Tolton’s heroic virtues.

Additional information and the Prayer for the Cause of Father Augustus Tolton can be found at