LAKE CHARLES -- 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 in the gymnasium at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, beginning at 7 p.m. each day.
Tolton: From Slave to Priest is a powerful new live production based on the life of Father 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, is calling Tolton a production that will “inspire a new era of peace, hope and forgiveness in America.”
It is a riveting multimedia drama not to be missed, running 75 minutes and suitable for middle school age and older.
To characterize Fr. 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 the town of Quincy, Illinois, the family continued to experience hardships and prejudice.
In spite of this, he 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 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 young 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 this extraordinary man.
The actor portraying Fr. Tolton, Jim Coleman, is excited and honored to be playing the role. Prior to his acting career, he served in the U.S. Army as a medic.
Having appeared in more than 50 national commercials, Coleman 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,” he 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!”
Jim and his wife Robin reside in Florida; they are the proud parents of six children.
For nearly 40 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.