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Church Pew


The legacy of Father Tolton has spread in recent years, mostly due to the opening of the Cause for his canonization in 2010. The late Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI, stated in 2014 that introducing Tolton’s Cause was “one of the most important, if not the most important” ecclesiastical actions he had taken in his nearly 17 years as archbishop of Chicago.

The canonization of a saint is one of the greatest blessings God bestows upon His Church. Through canonization, God confirms the holiness of the lives of men and women who were His very faithful servants on earth. To be canonized, someone must live a life of heroic virtue at a level above and beyond the ordinary practice of Christian virtue. This would include constancy at prayer, perseverance through great trials, patience in intense sufferings, a notable practice of the works of mercy, especially toward the poor and the suffering, and outstanding zeal in the spreading of God’s love and mercy in word and deed for the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

Much about Tolton’s life is unknown; telling Tolton’s story is no easy task. Records are inferior because of his early status as a slave and as a man of color in a post-Civil War America. The majority of what is known has been compiled in his official biography, called a positio, submitted in 2018 to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes as part of the ongoing effort toward his canonization. 

His Cause cleared a significant hurdle on the path to canonization when he was declared “venerable” on June 11, 2019.

The vice-postulator of Tolton’s Cause, Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, situates the significance of Tolton’s witness in context: “Tolton’s story is one of carving out one’s humanity as a man and as a priest in an atmosphere of racial volatility. His was a fundamental and pervasive struggle to be recognized, welcomed, and accepted. He rises wonderfully as a Christ-figure, never uttering a harsh word about anyone or anything while being thrown one disappointment after another. He persevered among us when there was no logical reason to do so.”

How you can help the Cause of Canonization of Father Augustus Tolton

You can pray the special prayer for his canonization stated below that simultaneously presents a request for healing or other special intention to God. You can also talk up the story of Father Tolton to your parish, prayer group, or Bible Study group, your children, and grandchildren. 

Monetary donations are deeply appreciated, much needed, and make a real difference in Father Tolton’s cause for canonization. For more information on donating to the Official Organization for the Promotion of the Cause of Canonization of Father Augustus Tolton, please click here

Other ways to help the Cause would be to attend the various events sponsored by the archdiocese for the promotion of the Cause, or to make financial donations that specifically support the Cause.


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