Bringing Tolton to life in Alexandria

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As the winner of the 2018 Father Augustus Tolton and Mother Mary Lange Black Catholic Service Award was announced, Beverly Anderson, business manager at St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, looked around her at the faces of those she thought might win the award.

She had no idea she would be honored.

“I’m completely humbled to have received the award,” she said. “Knowing Tolton’s life and what he gave, I just don’t feel I give enough, because God has blessed me and the deacon (her husband, Al Anderson Jr.) beyond belief. I feel like I need to give more.”

The award is “given to someone who works diligently, tirelessly and effortlessly among the Black Catholic community of our diocese, to promote and further evangelization,” said Corinne Monogue, director of the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries. The award recipient is nominated by peers and selected by the nomination committee. A plaque, with the awardee’s name engraved on it, is then displayed in his or her parish. There is also a monetary gift to the awardee.

As part of Black Catholic History Month, the diocesan multicultural ministries co-sponsored performances of Tolton: From Slave to Priest, chronicling the life of Tolton, a former slave from Missouri who became a Catholic priest and is under consideration for canonization. 

The one-man play was held at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria Nov. 15-18. The performance Nov. 15 was canceled due to inclement weather. Despite the cancellation, more than 1,500 people saw the show.

Monogue said the reactions from the audience were overwhelmingly positive. “Some were surprised they never knew about Tolton,” she said. “Those that knew of him thought the acting was amazing to be able to represent him on the stage and tell his story.”

The play was produced by St. Luke Productions from Battle Ground, Wash., and Tolton was played by Jim Coleman.

For those who want to know more about the life of Father Tolton, Joyce Duriga, editor of Chicago Catholic, wrote Augustus Tolton: The Church is the True Liberator, published by Liturgical Press. The book includes key moments of his life, including returning from Rome to Quincy, Ill.  

 Find out more

To buy a copy of “Augustus Tolton: The Church is the True Liberator,” go to litpress.org/lp/peopleofgod.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

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