Notre Dame High School was excited to have the production of Tolton: From Slave to Priest come to the ND stage. The live theatrical one-man drama performed by actor Jim Coleman and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions took place on Tuesday, February 6, in the ND Auditorium. This moving production was performed in front of both the student body during an assembly and during a production for an open crowd at night. At the show's end, Coleman was given a roaring applause for his profound depiction of Fr. Augustus Tolton, providing our students and guests with a beautiful story of perseverance and courage.
About the Production: Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a powerful new live production based on the life of Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest. This compelling true story of courage, forgiveness, and reconciliation resonates deeply with modern American audiences. Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, postulator for Fr. Tolton’s canonization cause, is calling Tolton a production that will “inspire a new era of peace, hope and forgiveness in America.” Tolton is a riveting multimedia drama not to be missed. The production runs 75 minutes and is suitable for middle school age and up.
About Father Tolton: To characterize Fr. Augustus Tolton’s life as remarkable is an understatement. He was born a slave on a Missouri farm in 1854, and his mother risked everything to reach freedom in Illinois with her three small children. After settling in the town of Quincy, Illinois, the family continued to experience hardships and prejudice. In spite of this, he persevered in his deep desire to become a Catholic priest. When every seminary in the United States rejected him, Augustus did not give up, and he was finally ordained in Rome. Upon his return to Illinois, Fr. Tolton worked tirelessly to serve people of all races, especially the former slaves who flocked to Chicago.
Fr. Tolton saw the Catholic Church as the antidote to the discrimination and rejection that he experienced in his own life. “It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors,” he said. “We should welcome all people into the Church, not send them away.” At the young age of 43, Fr. Tolton died after collapsing from heat exhaustion in Chicago. Now his cause for sainthood is moving forward, as more and more people are beginning to recognize the humble perseverance, courage, and compassion of this extraordinary man.