Dominicans Host New Live Drama about First African American Priest

Dominicans Host New Live Drama about First African American Priest

Springfield, Ill.—Tolton: From Slave to Priest, the live theatrical one-man drama performed by actor Andrae Goodnight and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at Dominican Hall at Sacred Heart-Griffin East Campus in Springfield.

The public is welcome 6:30 p.m., Saturday, December 2, at SHG, 1200 W. Washington Street, Springfield. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Admission is a free-will offering. Free parking available. See map.

The performance is sponsored by the Springfield Dominican Sisters Antiracism Team (SDART) and is scheduled for the weekend of their quarterly team meeting. “Many team members come from the Chicago area and Jackson, Mississippi, to join us in the work of dismantling racism,” said Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, one of the team co-chairs. “For years Father Gus has been an inspiration and encouragement to our work. We wanted to be able to share and celebrate his story and expand the audience to our many partners in this work throughout the region.”

Leroy Jordan, co-chair SDART with Sister Marcelline, has been a strong voice in support of the cause for Father Tolton’s canonization and instrumental in encouraging the performance at SHG. “We are happy to share this performance with anyone who wants to be inspired by the life of Father Augustus Tolton,” he said. “The story of his struggle to serve the church he loved will be meaningful to anyone who has ever faced a challenge to their mission in life.”

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

When: 6:30 p.m.  Saturday, December 2, 2017
Where:
SHG auditorium, 1200 W. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62702
Who can come: All are welcome. Mature content; suitable for ages 10+
Cost: Free-will offering
Parking: Free. See map.
Accessibility: Fully accessible. See attendants for assistance.

More FAQS

Questions? 217-787-0481

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a powerful new live production based on the life of Father Tolton, the first African American priest. This compelling true story of courage, forgiveness, and reconciliation resonates deeply with modern American audiences. Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, postulator for Father Tolton’s canonization cause, is calling Tolton: From Slave to Priest a production that will “inspire a new era of peace, hope and forgiveness in America.”

Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a riveting multimedia drama not to be missed. The production runs 75 minutes, and is suitable for middle school age and up.

ABOUT FATHER AUGUSTUS TOLTON

To characterize Father Augustus Tolton’s life as remarkable is an understatement. He was born a slave on a Missouri farm in 1854 and his mother risked everything to reach freedom in Illinois with her three small children. After settling in Quincy, the family continued to experience hardships and prejudice. Despite this, Tolton persevered in his deep desire to become a Catholic priest. When every seminary in the United States rejected him, he did not give up, and, with the support of the Franciscan priests in Quincy, he was finally ordained in Rome. Upon his return to Illinois Father Tolton worked tirelessly to serve people of all races, especially the former slaves who flocked to Chicago.

Father Tolton saw the Catholic Church as the antidote to the discrimination and rejection that he experienced in his own life. “It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors,” he said. “We should welcome all people into the Church, not send them away.”

At the young ages of 43, Father Tolton died after collapsing from heat exhaustion in Chicago. Now his cause for sainthood is moving forward, as more and more people are beginning to recognize the humble perseverance, courage, and compassion of this extraordinary man.

ABOUT THE ACTOR

Andrae Goodnight brings a wealth of diverse experience to the role of Father Augustus Tolton, including work in youth ministry, public service, radio, and film. He and his wife Cheryl are converts to the Catholic faith and the parents of six children.

Goodnight’s love for Christ and desire for positive social change drew him to Father Tolton. “The story of the first Black priest in America touches me in a very personal way,” he explains. “It is a journey inward, and his sanctity beckons me to prayer and my own personal pursuit of holiness. I am seeking not only to play this role, but to become the role I play. I pray this drama will push forward the conversation about what it means to be a truly welcoming Catholic community.”

Father Tolton saw the Catholic Church as the antidote to the discrimination and rejection that he experienced in his own life. “It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors,” he said. “We should welcome all people into the Church, not send them away.”

ABOUT SAINT LUKE PRODUCTIONS

For 37 years, Saint Luke Productions has been creating inspiring live dramas, films, radio programming, and more. Their productions on the Gospels and the lives of the saints, including the acclaimed feature film Thérèse, have been seen by millions of people worldwide.

For more information about Saint Luke Productions, visit www.stlukeproductions.com.

For questions about the performance call 217-787-0481 or visit the Facebook page.