November 21, 2023
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, shares how the Venerable Father Augustus Tolton inspires him (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the first African American cardinal, welcomed the crowd who filled Della Ratta Auditorium on Monday evening for a play about the life of the first Black American priest Father Augustus Tolton.

“He blazed a trail of inspiration that has helped grow the number of Black Catholics and he opened the door for the hundreds of African American priests who have followed him,” said the archbishop of Washington and University chancellor. Father Tolton is on his way to sainthood and Pope Francis declared him “Venerable” in 2019.  

Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a traveling show performed by actor Jim Coleman and produced by St. Luke Productions. The Nov 19 and Nov. 20 performances were part of the University’s celebration of Black Catholic History Month, which honors the courageous contributions of the faithful from Africa and the African diaspora. 

University President Peter Kilpatrick said during his remarks that the Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 performances are part of the campuswide celebration of Black Catholic History Month, which honors the history and contributions of the faithful of African descent.

Jim Coleman, who plays Father Augustus Tolton, speaks to the crowd who gathered to see the performance. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

The production was brought to campus thanks to the following sponsors: The Office of the President, The Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship, The Busch School of Business, The Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, Campus Ministry, Office of Alumni Relations, The Center for Cultural Engagement, The Napa Institute, Glorybell and Juan José Daboub, and Shelli and Andreas Widmer.