Skip to Content

First black priest to be commemorated in Quincy

QUINCY (WGEM) — Tri-State Catholics will commemorate the 122nd anniversary of Father Augustine Tolton’s death with a pilgrimage procession on Saturday.

The office of the Diocese of Springfield states that the mile-long pilgrimage procession will begin at 9 a.m. at the statue of Father Tolton outside St. Peter Catholic School at 2500 Maine St.

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 Catholic Cemetery.

After entering the cemetery, the procession will stop at the grave of Father Tolton for the celebration of Morning Prayer at 9:30 a.m., which is composed of Psalms, a reading from Scripture, petitions, and song. After Morning Prayer, the pilgrims will pray for vocations to the priesthood and more ordinations of priests through Father Tolton’s intercession and for his canonization as a saint. The pilgrimage procession will conclude with the singing of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” Father Tolton’s favorite song.

Those who wish to participate in the Morning Prayer but cannot walk in the procession are invited to park near the cemetery to meet the procession at the grave — because of 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 the Morning Prayer.

Born a slave in Missouri, Father Tolton and his family escaped to Quincy. He later became the nation’s first black priest, serving in Quincy and Chicago.

Father Tolton died in Chicago on July 9, 1897 and is interred in St. Peter Cemetery in Quincy, where he was raised and from where he left to study for the priesthood in Rome. He returned to Quincy as a priest in 1886 and ministered in the Gem City until he left for Chicago in 1889. The cause for the canonization of Father Tolton is under way. He was declared “Venerable” last month by Pope Francis making him two steps away from being declared a saint. Father Tolton is the nation’s first black priest.







Jim Roberts

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

Skip to content