Father Tolton could be deemed saint

Courtesy: The Catholic Times

UPDATED: May 23 at 3:37 p.m.

You can expect a special celebration in Quincy June 5th.

St. Peter Catholic Church will host a special mass to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Father Augustus Tolton's ordination.

He was the nation's first black Catholic priest.

Catholic leaders are in the process of turning Father Tolton into a saint.Father Peter Harman is a member of the Tolton Guild.

He said, "It's a unique place where we are now. Not many people get to live in the place where someone who lived where they lived is now advancing toward sainthood."

The special mass will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 5th at St. Peter's Catholic Church.

A program will follow at Quincy University.


UPDATED: May 23 at 10:45 a.m.

We will be talking to Rev. Peter Harmon Monday about Father Augustine Tolton.

Rev. Harmon will tell us more about the process of trying to get Father Tolton named a saint.

We are also looking forward to more information about the 125th anniversary celebration of Father Tolton's ordination as a priest in June.

Check this story later and make sure you watch KHQA's News at Five, KHQA's Evening News at 6 p.m. and KHQA's Late News at 10 p.m.


An African-American priest with ties to the Tri-States could become a saint in the near future.

Three Quincy representatives, including Father Joe Zimmerman, went to a meeting in Chicago last month to begin the process of sainthood for Father Augustine Tolton. He was the nation's first known black priest and served in Quincy.

He was the nation's first known black priest and served in Quincy.

KHQA's Rajah Maples spoke with Father Joseph Zimmerman about the process.Father Joseph Zimmerman said the Catholic Church is trying to determine if Father Tolton lived a life that qualifies him as a saint.

Zimmerman said, "They have to examine everything he wrote and whatever we know about his life, because the question is -- did he show an extraordinary degree of some Christian virtue?"

Zimmerman said, "You've heard the term devil's advocate, which comes from this process. The idea is that somebody is given the job of trying to give up whatever dirt they can find."

Zimmerman said there are two levels -- the beatification process where the person gets the title, "blessed." The second level is known as "canonization," which means the person becomes a saint.

He said, "The rule as I understand it is that you have to have verified some one miracle. A miracle really is an event that you cannot explain by ordinary human beings. You have to have a cure or some other thing like that that cannot be explained by ordinary processes, and you have to have all kinds of official, professional testimony about that. Doctors have to examine the whole record and you know, verify that something happened here that they just can't explain."

Father Zimmerman said the road to sainthood is not a fast one. It could take anywhere from 10 to 15 years or even decades.

"I think Father Tolton's story is important in this region because he grew up across the river as a slave; worked and lived in Quincy and is buried here in St. Peter's Cemetery on Broadway, so that gives us specific Quincy ties to his life and work," he said.

Meanwhile, Columbia, Missouri is in the process of building its first Catholic high school named after Father Tolton.

It's scheduled to open this fall, according to the Columbia Missourian newspaper.