A life of great perseverance

Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry takes a moment to reflect at the grave of Fr. Augustus Tolton at St. Peter's Cemetery, Quincy, Ill. Perry is the postulator for Tolton's sainthood cause. (NCR photo/Stephanie Yeagle)

Quincy, Ill. — Nestled in the heart of a bustling shopping district in Quincy, Ill., lies the 200-year-old St. Peter Cemetery.

Visitors walk about 100 yards down a gravel driveway behind a movie theater to stroll among the quiet, well-maintained graves, shadowed by trees.

In the back of the cemetery, overlooking the rest of the tombstones, stands a tall cross. It's the gravesite of Servant of God Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first African-American to be ordained a diocesan priest in the Roman Catholic church.

On Sept. 27, about a dozen pilgrims from the Chicago archdiocese formed a semicircle around the grave to hold an evening liturgy. Together they recited the prayer for the sainthood cause of Tolton:

Father Tolton's suffering service sheds a light upon our sorrows; we see them through the prism of your Son's passion and death. If it be your Will, O God, glorify your servant, Father Tolton, by granting the favor I now request through his intercession so that all may know the goodness of this priest whose memory looms large in the Church he loved.

Led by Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry and C. Vanessa White, an assistant professor of spirituality and ministry at Catholic Theological Union, the annual pilgrimage takes visitors to historical sites connected with the early life of Tolton in Quincy and in Brush Creek, Mo.

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