Augustus went to Rome in 1880 to attend a seminary of the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith. He was ordained a priest in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran on Holy Saturday 1886, and was sent back to serve in Illinois in the Diocese of Alton. He worked at a parish in Quincy, but met with opposition from a white priest, and in 1889 secured permission to transfer to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In Chicago he founded a black parish, Saint Monica’s. He died July 9, 1897 from heat stroke and heart failure, at the age of 43.
“This man … literally died of exhaustion in giving himself to people, probably some of the very people that rejected him,” Archbishop Pérez preached at a June 26 Mass honoring the priest at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
Venerable Tolton “persevered because what was in his heart was love,” the archbishop said.
The intolerance Venerable Tolton faced made his heart grow bigger, “rather than shrink,” Archbishop Pérez said to those on retreat.
Madeline Tymes, a supporter of Tolton’s cause for canonization, said the priest “serves as an inspirational model for all Christians on how to handle persecution and hardship on life’s path,” according to Catholic Philly.