A former slave, he obtained his freedom and was baptized and reared Catholic. He went on to study formally in Rome and was ordained on Easter Sunday of 1886 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, thereby becoming the first native born Black Catholic priest in the U.S.
Although he wanted to become a missionary in Africa, he was sent back to the U.S., and so in a way he did become a missionary……but not in the way he had planned (God does like to ruin our plans, doesn’t He?).
Assigned to a parish in Quincy, Illinois, where his dynamic preaching he attracted worshippers from all parts of the city, both black and white. He overcame many obstacles in his priesthood….most notably from some of his fellow priests, who were jealous of his popularity.
With the promulgation of the decree of heroic virtue, Servant of God Augustus Tolton is granted the title “Venerable”.
The next stage in the “causes” would be beatification, where he would be proclaimed “Blessed”, followed ultimately by canonization, when he will hopefully be Saint Augustus Tolton.
You can read more about him and where to find his grave here.