Black History Month 2022

In honor of Black History Month, we honor Servant of God Julia Greeley. Julia was born into slavery in Missouri sometime between 1833 and 1848. Much like St. Katharine Drexel, she gave all she had to the poor and practiced spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Losing her eye to a slavemaster’s whip as a child didn’t hinder her good works. Once she was freed from slavery in 1865, she moved to Denver, Colorado, and converted to Catholicism. Julia lived very simply and would beg on the street just to have more to give away. She was often seen delivering food and provisions to the poor via a little red wagon throughout the city – sometimes walking many miles a day. Julia had a special love for firefighters and would stop by the firehouse in Denver each month to share the word of the Lord and provider pamphlets about the Sacred Heart. Her acts of selflessness toward the poor helped spread the love of the Lord to so many!

We are also honoring Venerable Augustus Tolton in celebration of Black History Month! Born into slavery in Missouri in 1854, Augustus was the first African American Catholic priest to be publicly ordained as an African American. Despite being born into slavery, Augustus had a call to priesthood. The racism he faced in his journey to priesthood was undoubtedly challenging. Every seminary in America rejected him because of the color of his skin. Eventually, he was accepted to a seminary in Rome to fulfill his calling, with his first public mass held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Easter Sunday in 1886. Tolton was sent to Chicago, where he established the Negro “national parish” of St. Monica’s Catholic Church, funded by philanthropists Anne O’Neill and our very own, St. Katharine Drexel. He served his congregation tirelessly until his passing. We are so grateful for the tireless dedication and sacrifice shown through Augustus Tolton’s legacy!