Quilters use needle and thread to make a saint

Some Quincy quilters are using a needle and thread to help make a former Quincy priest a Catholic Saint.

There is a national effort to canonize the nation's first black priest Father Augustus Tolton.

Tolton grew up in in Quincy and served as a priest at St. Boniface Church in Quincy.

Stitch by stitch, cut by cut, Joyce Shipp and Marty Venertloh are telling the life story of Father Augustus Tolton. Click here to read more on his life.

It all started at St. Peter's Church in Quincy with the goal of making a quilt to help raise money to help with the canonization process for Father Tolton. But it became a labor of love for these women in a way they never dreamed.

Shipp said, "It seemed like this is a story that should be told and here was a person who was a very ordinary person, but did extraordinary things."

St. Peter's Church has a special tie to the nation's first black priest. After Tolton and his family crossed the Mississippi to escape slavery in Ralls County, Missouri he grew up in Quincy. He later went to school at St. Peters and attended mass there.

In fact the church was a driving factor behind his calling to the cloth, after a priest at the church took Tolton under his wing. He was ordained in Rome and then came back to Quincy to serve parishioners here. But despite his good works, Father Tolton was persecuted by prejudice throughout his life. He eventually moved to Chicago and started black churches there.

Even after his sudden death in 1897, his story was far from over. Due to his work to bring people to the Lord while overcoming prejudice has him beingconsidered for sainthood.

Now enter Shipp and Venvertloh - making stitches of faith on this quilt, while telling his life story in the process.

The process to make Tolton a saint is lengthy, and sometimes costly to get materials for the process to Rome. To raise funds, these quilters created a living work of art for silent auction in Chicago. Now they're making a duplicate to display at St. Peters Church. It's a labor of love for make a constant reminder to others that one person can make a difference despite any barriers.

There are many steps that need to be taken in the canonization process before someone can be deemed a saint. Click here to review the process.