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From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton (1854 - 1897) : First Black American Priest of the United States [Hardcover]

By Sister Caroline Hemsath (Author) & Harold Burke-Sivers (Foreword by)
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Item description for From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton (1854 - 1897) : First Black American Priest of the United States by Sister Caroline Hemsath & Harold Burke-Sivers...

Fr. Augustine Tolton (1854-1897) was the first black priest in the United States. Born into a black Catholic slave family, Father Tolton conquered almost insurmountable odds to become a Catholic priest, and at his early death at 43, this pioneer black American priest left behind a shining legacy of holy service to God, the Church and his people. With the thorough scholarly research and inspirational writing by Sister Caroline Hemesath, the great legacy of this first black priest, and his courage in the face of incredible prejudice within the Church and society, will be a source of strength and hope for modern Christians who face persecution for their faith, especially black Catholics who still experience similar prejudices. In American history, many black people have achieved, against great odds, success and made distinct contributions to our society and their fellowman. But Father Tolton faced a different source of prejudice-an opposition from within the Church, the one institution he should have been able to rely on for compassion and support. He endured many rebuffs, as a janitor spent long hours in the church chapel in prayer, and attended clandestine classes taught by friendly priests and nuns who saw in his eyes the bright spark of the love of God, devotion to the Church and a determination to serve his people. Denied theological training in America, these friends helped him to receive his priestly education, and ordination, in Rome. He later became the pastor of St. Monica's Church in Chicago and established a center at St. Monica's which was the focal point for the life of black Catholics in Chicago for 30 years. The author interviewed many people who knew Father Tolton personally, including St. Katharine Drexel, and presents a deeply inspiring portrait of a great American Catholic. Within this book are various illustrations and photographs.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.44" Width: 6.38" Height: 1.05"
Weight:   0.98 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 16, 2006
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  158617097X  
ISBN13  9781586170974  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > African-American & Black
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Inspirational
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism

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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton (1854 - 1897) : First Black American Priest of the United States?

Sensitive and excellent read  May 16, 2008
This book is an excellent look into the life struggles that African Americans faced long after their freedom was granted. A sensitive account of the real fear, sacrifice and patient endurance that this young man and his family endured. It is a testament to his faith in God and willingness to adjust his own expectations and accept God's plan for his life; he was always a tool for spreading the love of God and salvation through Christ. If ever there was an account of someone taking lemons and making lemonaide, this is it!
Excellent "speculative biography"  Mar 4, 2008
Sr. Caroline Hemesath recounts for us the inspirational story of the first black Catholic priest in the United States with this book (originally published in 1973 and re-issued in 2006). Although she did a fair amount of research and interviews for the book (as evidenced by the bibliography), Sr. Hemesath presents Fr. Tolton's life in a series of fictionalized vignettes, a sort of "speculative biography." The result is, if not 100% accurate, extremely readable and provides a good picture of what Fr. Tolton's life was probably like.

She is particularly adept at presenting the trials Fr. Tolton endured: the constant rejection by seminaries in his own country, the years spent building up money to pay for studies in Rome, the harassment at the hands of a fellow priest in Quincy. His was not a happy life, insofar as he never seems to have found a place to truly call home where he could be a simple pastor (which seems to have been his only real wish).

On the other hand, his trials never diminished his love of the Church, even in its human brokenness, and Sr. Hemesath gives us a real sense of Fr. Tolton's anguish -- a cross of racism, hate and bigotry -- and joys in his life. Rather than bemoan his fortune Fr. Tolton sought one thing only: to serve God and his people. I highly recommend this book.
Incredible perseverence and resignation  Dec 23, 2007
This book was recommended as a book for my high schooler to read while studying the Recovery period of American History. I read it while on vacation and couldn't put it down. The story of Augustine Tolton is sad and poignant, yet so inspiring. This man had a true calling, and had the inner strength and grace to persevere against overwhelming obstacles. The undying support of his mother, as well as a few mentors, are inspirational examples of true charity and moral courage. Even after becoming a priest, Tolton remained a slave -- a willing slave to the duties of his state in life, a slave of love and of service, which is what God demands of all. If this book becomes available on CD, I would like to get it for all of the truly devoted priests that I know.
From Slave to Priest!  May 26, 2007
How does one write a review about book like this? The title alone tells such an incredible story, you know you will have to read it. Augustine Tolton was born a slave of wonderful parents. His father escaped slavery and fought and died for the Union Army in the Civil War. His mother made a dangerous journey North with three small children to find a better life for her children.

Augustine Tolton wanted more than anything to be a priest, to bring Jesus to all people, and yet he was denied entrance into the seminaries in the United States because he was black. Finally, after many years of being turned away, he was received into the seminary in Rome through the efforts of priest friends of his. His life was not long, and yet the work he did was incredible despite the many obstacles he faced. Often times God calls others to finish the work started by great people. Father Augustine Tolton was truly a Man of God.

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