Nolan Catholic to host live drama on first African American priest
FORT WORTH — Tolton: From Slave to Priest, the live theatrical one-man drama performed by actor Jim Coleman and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at Nolan Catholic High School, 4501 Bridge Street, Fort Worth, 76103.
Admission to the show, which takes place April 11 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium, will be a free-will offering with seating on a first-come, first-serve basis. It will be the drama’s first ever appearance in North Texas.
Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a powerful new live production based on the life of Fr. Augustus 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 Fr. Tolton’s canonization cause, called Tolton a production that will “inspire a new era of peace, hope, and forgiveness in America.”
Fr. Augustus Tolton 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 the town of Quincy, Illinois, the family continued to experience hardships and prejudice. In spite of this, young Augustus persevered in his deep desire to become a Catholic priest. When every seminary in the United States rejected him, Augustus did not give up, and he was finally ordained in Rome. Upon his return to Illinois, Fr. Tolton worked tirelessly to serve people of all races, especially the former slaves who flocked to Chicago.
Fr. 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 age of 43, Fr. 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 the selfless priest.
Saint Luke Productions officials said Jim Coleman is excited and honored to be playing the role of Father Tolton. Prior to his acting career, Coleman served in the U.S. Army as a medic. Having appeared in more than 50 national commercials, Jim is best known for his role of Roger Parker in the hit Nickelodeon show My Brother and Me.
“Father Tolton’s story needs to be told,” Coleman said. “As a black man, this very important part of history is something that I want the world to hear about. I truly feel blessed to be the one to share Father Augustus Tolton with all who will listen!”
The show lasts 75 minutes and is appropriate for everyone ages 10 and up. For more information on the production, visit stlukeproductions.com.