Prayers for an end to racism will be a major focus of a pilgrimage procession to honor the first black priest in the United States who spent his formative years in Quincy.

To mark the 123rd anniversary of the death of Fr. Augustine Tolton, the Diocese of Springfield is organizing the procession which starts at 6:30, Thursday, July 9 at St. Peter Cathoilic School, 2500 Maine St. in Quincy. It was at St. Peter that Fr. Tolton started his education and the long journey that has led to his cause for canonization into sainthood today.

Augustine Tolton was born a slave in 1854 in Ralls County, MO just outside Monroe City.  His family escaped across the Mississippi River and settled in Quincy. As the first black priest, his path to ordination was filled with obstacles and struggles.  He said his first mass on American soil at St. Boniface Church in Quincy.

In 2019, Pope Francis declared Fr. Tolton to be Venerable. His cause for beatification and sainthood continues today in Rome, under the leadership of the Springfield and Jefferson City Dioceses.

The mile-long procession will lead from Fr. Toton's statue at St. Peter School until it reaches his grave at St. Peter Catholic Cemetery, where a prayer service will be held at 7:00 p.m.  In light of today's state of race relations, the focus will be petitions for an end to racism.