Paige Courtney

Augustus Tolton: Santo Subito!



There are no black American saints canonized in the Catholic Church. Now is the time to dedicate prayer for the recognition of the holy men and women who embody the gifts and talents of black culture.


Saints are reflections of holiness, they are entry points for evangelization, and they are vibrant reflections of God's glory. As demonstrated by the calls of "Santo Subitio" at the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II, canonization is mobilized by both popular appeal and the confirmation of miraculous intercession. When the faithful rally behind holy men and women, Rome listens.

Saints are images of God's holiness. God, in his infinite wisdom, choose to gift humanity with individual expressions of his beauty. No one person or culture or gender has a monopoly on holiness. The absence of a black American saint not only leaves black Catholics without a source of inspiration, it also implies that vibrant images of virtue are lacking in African-American culture.


God speaks to the faithful in intimate ways. He gave us his son because we needed a savior who experienced human suffering. He gave us mother Mary because every human needs the tenderness of a mother. He infuses every culture with vibrant men and women that have unique charisms of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the entire church.

Augustus Tolton, the first black priest in America, is the perfect starting point for black American saints. However there is also Henriette Delille and Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, to name just a few of the virtuous black Catholics who are worthy of veneration. There are many more black Catholics who displayed heroic virtue.


The Catholic Church in America is still segregated and black Americans are underrepresented. There are approximately 1.5 million black Catholics in the United States about 3% of the total Catholic population, yet black Americans are 12% of the general population. Historically black Americans suffer discrimination in arenas where they are underrepresented, even churches. Black Americans will fear the Catholic Church as long as there is inadequate representation in the pews and in the ranks of the saints.


The Catholic Church needs Augustus Tolton now, let's us offer daily prayer for his cause.


Prayer for the canonization of Fr. Augustus Tolton:

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 in 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.  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 (mention your request) 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. Not 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 2010 Bishop Joseph N. Perry Imprimatur Francis Cardinal George, OMI Archdiocese of Chicago

Venerable Augustus Tolton, pray for us!

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