Celebrating Fr. Augustus Tolton

Father Augustus ToltonSt. John Cantius Parish is hosting two events to celebrate Chicago's possible first saint! From slave to priest—the life of Father Augustus Tolton is an inspiring story every American should know.

On Friday, February 22nd join us for a lecture and media presentation by author Joyce Duriga on the new biography of Father Tolton.

On Friday and Saturday, March 8th & 9th , join us for a live theatre drama by St. Luke Productions, Tolton: From Slave to Priest.

"The Catholic Church deplores double slavery: that of the mind and that of the body, She endeavors to free us from both." —Father Augustus Tolton, 1889

Presentation with Author Joyce Duriga

Friday, February 22
7:30 pm

Parish Hall
Admission: free will offering
"America has been called the most enlightened nation. We will see if it deserves the honor. If America has never seen a Negro priest, it will see one now." —Cardinal Giovanni Simeoni, 1886
Join us for a lecture and visual presentation on a new official biography of Fr. Augustus Tolton by author, Joyce Duriga. The presentation will feature exclusive photos by award winning photographer, Karen Callaway. Karen has documented the places found throughout Fr. Tolton's life, as well as the steps now being taken toward his much hoped for canonization.

Joyce Duriga speaking on Father Tolton
Joyce Duriga will be presenting on her new book "Augustus Tolton"

Joyce Duriga worked closely with Bishop Joseph Perry, the Diocesan Postulator for the Cause of Father Augustus Tolton, in producing this official biography on the life of Father Tolton. She has served as editor of Chicago Catholic, the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago, since 2007. Prior to coming to Chicago, she was the associate editor of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly. Her work appears regularly in local, regional, and national publications.



Live Theatre Drama: Tolton, From Slave to Priest

Friday, March 8 at 7:30 pm
Matinee: Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 pm
Parish Hall
Tickets: $15 or $10 Seniors and Students

Tickets will be available Monday, February 18th!

The nationally-acclaimed live theater production based on the life of Father Augustus Tolton, America’s first Black priest, is coming to Chicago. Tolton: From Slave to Priesttells the moving story of Chicago's first possible saint. It is an inspiring drama that brings to life the holiness and forgiveness so desperately needed in today's world.

Produced by the award-winning Leonardo Defillippis of St. Luke Productions, Tolton: From Slave to Priest, has been seen in cities across America.

“I found Tolton to be a wonderful statement of faith and perseverance. The script is excellent, laced with the right passages from the scriptures to keep it grounded in Tolton's faith.

The performance is so rich in telling this compelling story. People were genuinely moved—they had never seen anything like it.”

—Bishop Joseph N. Perry

Tickets will be available soon!



Augustus Tolton


Father Augustus Tolton was the first identified black American ordained to the priesthood in the United States. He was born into slavery and escaped to freedom with his mother and siblings under harrowing circumstances. Throughout his life he displayed a great devotion to the Lord and the Catholic faith despite facing racism within the Church at nearly every turn. Still, he felt and preached that the Catholic Church's teaching that all people are children of God regardless of race made it the true church for African Americans in the United States following the Civil War.

More about the cause of Fr. Augustus Tolton »