QUINCY – Dozens joined in prayer Sunday afternoon to celebrate Father Augustus Tolton’s life and journey to sainthood at St. Peters Cemetery.
Fr. Tolton’s grave site was the last stop of a three-day pilgrimage throughout the Tri-States.
Bishop Joseph Perry led the trip from Chicago and said it’s special to see where Fr. Tolton overcame a tough time in his life.
“He showed himself to be a strong Christian through all of that and a welcoming spirit, a generous heart and a fine priest,” bishop Joseph Perry said. “Most qualities people have remembered well over 100 years.”
Bishop Perry said the pilgrimage travels to Quincy twice a year to learn about Fr. Tolton’s journey, as a runaway slave who settled in Quincy and was educated here before going to Rome, where he became the first African American priest.
It’s something one pilgrimage participant said means a lot to her.
“It has also enlightened my spirituality to spread the good news, because how he went through the trials of tribulations as a youngster and the strength of his mother and the foundation she set for her children,” participant Cecilia Shipps-Anakwe said. “She was determined to get them to the land of freedom.”
Bishop Perry said as a venerable, he’s well on his way to sainthood.
“Venerable means he had a story of a life that Rome approved and promoting a person who would be a saint, and waiting for the next steps,” Perry said.
“We’re claiming he will be a saint, he already is a saint and we thank God for him,” Shipps-Anakwe said.
Participants said they also made stops at Brush Creek, the church where he was baptized and St. Peters Church.