A Saint for Our Times

11-10-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

November is National Black Catholic History Month. Next Sunday we will have a special commemoration.

One African-American who is on the path to sainthood is the Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton. Father Tolton was born into the sad life of slavery in Missouri. His baptismal record merely records him as “a child, property of Stephen Elliot; … and the child’s birthdate of April 1, 1854.” The family escaped to the North, but struggled to find acceptance there as well. Through the intervention of a kind priest and after a painful experience of rejection at an all-white Catholic school in Illinois, Augustus was admitted to another Catholic school, where he received an excellent education. When it came time for Augustus to enter seminary, sadly he faced rejection again. It would be in Rome at the Pope’s own seminary at St. John Lateran that Father Augustus would be ordained. On June 11, 2019, Pope Francis issued the declaration that Father Augustus Tolton lived a life of heroic virtue thus advancing him to the title, The Venerable Father Augustus Tolton.

From November 13–21, I encourage us all to pray the novena (nine-day prayer) that follows. We will pray it publicly on the 13th and 21st at the 5:30pm daily Mass. Father Tolton now needs two miracles for canonization. Ask with confidence and faith! “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).

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. Christ, your Son and our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are our God, living and reigning forever and ever. Amen.

Father Wilson