On March 2, 2010, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago announced that a historical commission will be appointed to look into the life of Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in the United States. Augustine Tolton was informally known to his parishioners in Chicago as "Good Father Gus".
Augustine was born in Missouri on April 1, 1854. He was an April Fool's Day baby, but there was nothing foolish about this young man. Accounts of Augustine's life say that he escaped from his slave owners and arrived in the free State of Illinois with his brother Charley, and his mother via the Mississippi River.
Once he arrived with his family in Illinois, they started working at the Herris Tobacco Co. making cigars. Although he faced opposition because of his race, Augustine was allowed to attend parochial school by Father Peter McGirr. His academic achievements were notable; but, Augustine was not admitted to seminaries within the United States because he was black.
Arrangements were made for Augustine to study in Rome where he finished his education at Quincy University and at the Pontifical Urbiana University. He became fluent in Italian, and he studied Latin and Greek. Augustine Tolton showed a tireless dedication to his parish in Chicago. He died of heat stroke on July 9, 1897 at the age of 43.
Please read more information about Augustine Tolton here: The first black priest and black president share similarities
.Do you think it's ironic that the first black priest and the first black president have ties to the city of Chicago? Do you think it's strictly coincidence that both the first black priest and president being inaugurated and up for canonization within a year of one another? Is canonizing Augustine Tolton an attempt by the Catholic Church to stay "up with the times"? Why did the Catholic Church wait to begin the canonization of Augustine Tolton now? Have you ever heard of him before?