PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Office for Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is preparing to launch a campaign with a dual purpose: promoting the canonization of a saint, and recruiting men to service in the priesthood.
Deacon William Bradley, who is director of the Office, says a task force wants to use the cause for sainthood for Father Augustus Tolton, the first African-American Catholic priest born into slavery, as means to recruit young men in the African-American community here to consider a vocation.
“We really need to start to highlight that among our young people so that they see that as an option, that God may be calling them to be a priest,” Bradley said.
Of the 1.5 million Catholics in the archdiocese, an estimated 20,000 are African-American. He says there are only 14 African-American priests.
Bradley says the group recently debuted a ten-minute video on Tolton’s cause at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
Now, Bradley says, it wants to take that video to parishes to reach out to African-American men, encouraging them to imitate Tolton’s example of service to God and his people.
“Talking about what it’s like to be a priest. Showing examples of priests in our community, particularly in our African-American community. Our young people can say, ‘I can be like that, I can be a priest,'” said Bradley.