News and Events

News Releases

The Archdiocese of Chicago to Host Gala Benefitting the Cause for Sainthood of Servant of God Reverend Augustus Tolton

The fundraiser will be held on Sunday, October 21, 2018

Chicago, IL (October 17, 2018) – The Archdiocese of Chicago will host a gala benefitting the Cause for Sainthood of Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton at 3 p.m., on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at the Navy Pier Lakeview Terrace, 600 East Grand Avenue in Chicago. The event is sponsored by the Father Tolton Guild and the archdiocese’s Vicariate VI Office of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry. The fundraiser supports expenses connected with the research, documentation and theological consultation required in advancing Fr. Tolton’s cause for beatification and canonization.

“Even though racial discrimination plagued Fr. Tolton for most of his life, he remained an exemplary Christian who was unequivocally devoted to service in the Catholic Church,” said Perry. “The beatification and canonization of Fr. Tolton will be a significant milestone in the history of black Catholicism in the United States. We are grateful for everyone’s support in his cause for sainthood.”  

Dr. C. Vanessa White, assistant professor of Spirituality and the director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union, will serve as the Mistress of Ceremony at the gala. The Neri Chamber Players Quintet will perform classical selections.

Each year, the Martha Jane Tolton Award is presented to an African American woman from the community who represents the essence and virtues of Fr. Tolton’s mother who championed her children on their journey to freedom. The recipient of this year’s award will be Laura Morris, a parishioner of St. Philip Neri Parish in Chicago, for her embodiment of the spirt of Martha Jane Tolton.

Born the son of slaves in Missouri, Fr. Tolton studied for priesthood in Rome as no American seminary would accept a man of his race. Ordained in 1886 for the Diocese of Alton, Illinois (now Springfield), he served his first three years as a priest in that diocese in the city of Quincy at a church for black Catholics. At the invitation of Archbishop Patrick Feehan, he came to Chicago in 1889 to labor among a small community of black Catholics, starting a new parish, St. Monica at 36th and Dearborn Streets. He led St. Monica Parish until he died in 1897 at the age of 43. 

This past March, Fr. Tolton’s cause for canonization took an important step forward with the approval of the positio from the Vatican’s historical commission. This approval, which certifies the historical record of the case are correct, marks the end of the research phase and is an important next step in the process for canonization. The cause, which was opened by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2011, is scheduled to go before the Vatican’s theological commission in February 2019, which will further examine the holiness of Fr. Tolton.  

To learn more about Fr. Tolton’s cause for sainthood, visit