Sunday 27 February 2011

Fr Augustine Tolton

A Reluctant Sinner has a really interesting post about Fr Augustine Tolton whose cause is getting going as America's first black priest.

His widowed mother (truly heroic) escaped slavery with three small children, the youngest 20 months, paddling a boat across a river with people shooting at her, to bring her children to freedom. He started work in a tobacco factory aged 7/8 and so it goes on.

He was rejected by every seminary in America. He was however helped by a number of priests to get an education and studied for the priesthood in Rome, where he expected to become a missionary in Africa. Thus he devoted some of his time to learning African languages, culture and history. Instead, he was sent back to his home diocese. He died aged 43, having collapsed in the street with heat exhaustion.

Well worth following the link and reading his biography.

PS This is another example of where exposure to the TLM is helpful, since when it says he offered his first Mass in StP's Basilica and the server was a Cardinal, it adds up a bit more. Also his first Mass in the US was in a Church for black people in NYC and was a Missa Cantata. The segregation situation in the 19thC was not as absolute as I (with limited info on US History) would have imagined. Aside from congregations being mixed and FrT offering High Masses where the Deacon and sub Deacon were Irish or German, there were descriptions of visiting priests sitting at his table eating meals with him and his family. This in contrast to the novel set in the 1960s, 'The Help,' which I have just read. Ramble Ramble.

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