From Slave to Priest by Caroline Hemesath is A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton - The First Black Priest of the United States. The author provides background information prior to Father Tolton's birth as well as additional information about events after his death. It's a complete rendering of not only the story of Tolton's life but the events surrounding his life. In addition, readers will learn about the plight of Catholic blacks in post Civil War America.
Father Tolton was born a slave in 1854 in Missouri; not someone you would ever imagine to become an ordained Catholic priest. But due to a series of events in his life and multiple individuals doing what they could go get him the education need prior to seminary and even finding a seminary willing to accept a black candidate, Father Tolton overcame many obstacles to fulfill his vocation in life. Father Tolton worked long hard hours at mulitple menial jobs to raise money for his training, he spent hours in private tutoring sessions in order to be prepared for seminary and he endured many rejections from seminaries unwilling to accept him as a candidate because he was black.
This book may seem a bit dry at first but if one sticks to it, they'll find a fascinating story of a determined young man not giving up on his dream of being a priest. I actually started reading this on more than one occassion but finally got drawn into the story while waiting for Mass to begin on Christmas Eve. I thank God for the gift of having to be at Mass early and for the peace to be able to focus on this moving story of an amazing man. If you enjoy stories of those that overcome adversity to do God's will, then this is the book for you.
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