Event Details: This February, St. Monica is observing Black History month by hosting Tolton: From Slave to Priest, a powerful live production about Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first recognizable African American priest. From his dramatic escape from slavery to his courageous struggle in the face of prejudice, Fr.Tolton’s inspiring life centers around his message of reconciliation and hope. This riveting drama is filled with all the elements of professional theater, runs 75 minutes, and is suitable for ages 10 and up. Our JustFaith Ministry community is particularly excited to see how the themes and the witness of Fr. Tolton’s life reflect the material they have been exploring in their Civil Rights module. JustFaith leader Dennis Hardwick noted, “I can’t wait to see this play—I have heard only great things about Fr. Tolton, and the courage he had to live out Christ’s call to create a more just world.” Christine Gerety, Associate Director of Outreach & Pastoral Care, shared: “Fr. Tolton is on the road to canonization; who better to learn about justice from than a future saint!” So come join us on Saturday, February 15, at 7 p.m. in the St. Monica Cantwell Auditorium. Admission is $20/ ticket in advance and $25 at the door. To purchase tickets, click the ticket above, or go to stmonica.net/tolton .
About JustFaith: JustFaith is an intensive and successful model of justice education and spiritual formation that consists of weekly meetings, and employs books, videos, speakers, discussion, prayer, retreats, and hands-on experiences. In the second course, which St. Monica JustFaith Ministry is currently reflecting on, the content awakens participants to the realities of racial and economic inequalities in the U.S., with the ultimate goal of introducing new and creative choices for a more just and faith-filled life as individuals and a community of faith. Through its focus on the U.S. criminal justice system and income inequality, it challenges participants to revisit how our faith informs our responsibility to each other.
About Father Tolton: To characterize Fr. Augustus Tolton’s life as remarkable is an understatement. He was born a slave on a Missouri farm in 1854, and his mother risked everything to reach freedom in Illinois with her three small children. After settling in the town of Quincy, Illinois, the family continued to experience hardships and prejudice. In spite of this, he persevered in his deep desire to become a Catholic priest. When every seminary in the United States rejected him, Augustus did not give up, and he was finally ordained in Rome. Upon his return to Illinois, Fr. Tolton worked tirelessly to serve people of all races, especially the former slaves who flocked to Chicago. Fr. Tolton saw the Catholic Church as the antidote to the discrimination and rejection that he experienced in his own life. “It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors,” he said. “We should welcome all people into the Church, not send them away.” At the young age of 43, Fr. Tolton died after collapsing from heat exhaustion in Chicago. Now his cause for sainthood is moving forward, as more and more people are beginning to recognize the humble perseverance, courage, and compassion of this extraordinary man.
About the Actor: Jim Coleman is excited and honored to be playing the role of Father Tolton. Having appeared in more than 50 national commercials, Jim is best known for his role of Roger Parker in the hit Nickelodeon show My Brother and Me. “Father Tolton’s story needs to be told,” says Coleman. “As a black man, this very important part of history is something that I want the world to hear about. I truly feel blessed to be the one to share Father Augustus Tolton with all who will listen!” Jim and his wife Robin reside in Florida; they are the proud parents of six children.
About Saint Luke Productions: For nearly 40 years, Saint Luke Productions has been creatinginspiring live dramas, films, radio programming, and more. Their productions on the Gospels and thelives of the saints, including the acclaimed feature film Thérèse, have been seen by millions of peopleworldwide. For more information about Saint Luke Productions, visit stlukeproductions.com .