Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters begin by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

Our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters are collaborating on a Black Catholic Project that begins on January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This project seeks to provide information on prominent Blacks and Black Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Venerable Augustus Tolton (1854-1897)

Venerable Augustus Tolton (1854-1897)

Augustus Tolton was the first recognized Black Catholic priest in the United States. He was born in Brush Creek, Missouri, where he began his life “not as a human being, but as someone’s personal property, i.e. as slave of a white Catholic family.” Like many slaves, his mother was baptized because her owners were of the Catholic faith. She raised her son in her Catholic faith.

In 1862 the Tolton family escaped slavery by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois. They settled in Quincy, Illinois, where Augustus attended St. Peter’s all-white Catholic School. Even though racial conflict haunted Tolton most of his life, he remained devoted to God and the Catholic Church. He felt called to the priesthood; however, because of racism he was not accepted into a seminary in the United States and so he went to Rome and was ordained in 1886.

The Pope returned him to the United States to serve the black community in Quincy, Illinois, and eventually he became a pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church and school.  Racial tensions in Quincy led to his reassignment to Chicago, where he started St. Monica’s Catholic parish. Father Tolton’s success at ministering to Black Catholics quickly earned him national attention.  

This holy man of God was treated as a commodity – i.e., he was bought and sold. Despite this, because he was gifted by God, he became an accomplished musician, mastered five languages, and through his dedication as pastor and eloquent preacher, brought many to the Catholic faith.  

Augustus Tolton embodied our Adrian Dominican charism of contemplative prayer and action as a fruit of contemplation.  

 

Resources

Biographical Information

Biography of Father Tolton - Father Tolton Catholic High School in Columbia, Missouri

On the Road to Sainthood: Leaders of African Descent - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) - PDF by the Archdiocese of Chicago

Website on Tolton and steps towards canonization by the Archdiocese of Chicago

Black Catholic History

Timeline of U.S. Black Catholic History - National Black Catholic Congress

Black Catholic History - Seattle University's Campus Ministry

Video on the people of African decent on the path to sainthood - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

Reflection Questions

1) When did you first become conscious of your racial identity?

2) When did you first identify the "other" as colored, Negro, Black, African-American, Latino, Hispanic, Asian, or white?

3) What contributions have Blacks and Black Catholics made to the society, culture and church that have benefitted all Catholics worldwide?

 

Prayer

God our Father and Mother, we pray together in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Ever present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us. We pray in faith.*

Glory be to our Father-Mother God and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Amen!

 

*Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the Jericho Road Homily

 

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Avatar  G. Alex Steinmiller last monthReply

Thank you, I hope to be following this series.
Let's pray for the fruitfulness of our efforts.
fr. g. alex steinmiller c.p.

Avatar  Cheryl Liske last monthReply

I know there are very many resources describing the diversity in our church -- here's one of my favorites - a 1993 interview with historian Cyprian Davis. https://uscatholic.org/articles/202010/in-the-beginning-there-were-black-catholics/



People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood

 

U.S. Black Catholic History Links

Black Catholic History page by Seattle University

Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series

News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois

 

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