Area Catholics invited to commemorate 126th anniversary of Quincy’s Father Tolton’s death

Area Catholics invited to commemorate 126th anniversary of Quincy’s Father Tolton’s death

Quincy, IL – Area Catholics and others devoted to the Venerable Servant of God Father Augustine Tolton – who grew up in Quincy, ministered in Quincy, and is buried in Quincy – are invited to commemorate the 126th anniversary of his death with a pilgrimage procession on Sunday, July 9 in Quincy. Father Tolton is recognized as the first black priest in the United States and the Cause for his beatification and canonization of sainthood is ongoing in Rome. 

The mile-long pilgrimage procession will begin 4 p.m. at the statue of Father Tolton outside St. Peter Catholic Church at 2600 Maine Street. After a few words of welcome and explanation, followed by a prayer, the pilgrimage procession will process along the south side of Maine Street where it will cross onto the east side of South 33rd Street. It will then process along the east side of South 33rd Street until it reaches St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery where Father Tolton is buried.

Upon entering the cemetery, the procession will stop at the grave of Father Tolton for the celebration of Evening Prayer at 4:30 p.m. Father Daren Zehnle will preside and Father Tom Meyer will preach.

Following Evening Prayer, the pilgrims will pray for an end to racism and for more priests through Father Tolton’s intercession, as well as for Father Tolton’s canonization as a saint. The pilgrimage procession will conclude with the singing of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” Father Tolton’s favorite hymn.

Those who wish to participate in Evening Prayer but cannot walk in the procession are invited to park near the cemetery to meet the procession at the grave. Due to the small size of the cemetery, no one should park in the cemetery itself.

Chairs and bottled water will be provided at the cemetery for those who wish to participate in Evening Prayer.

Father Tolton was born into slavery in 1854. In 1862, his mother and siblings made a daring escape across the Mississippi River to Illinois. After settling in Quincy, he went to school at St. Peter’s Catholic School. Tolton later went to seminary in Rome because no American seminary would accept a black man. Thinking he would minister in Africa, once he was ordained, he was instead sent back to Quincy, where he arrived to thousands of supporters. Known for his incredible singing and homilies, Tolton spent several years in Quincy before transferring to Chicago. He died of heatstroke at the age of 43 on July 9, 1897 and is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy. Most recently, Pope Francis declared him “Venerable” on June 12, 2019, the second step of four to becoming a saint in the Catholic Church.

For more information about this event, please contact:

Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
(217) 321-1109

This picture below of Father Tolton can be used by media:

Headshot.jpg – 1mb

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