Several weeks ago, I wrote about Stephen Cox, the Benedictine postulant who died just 3 days before he would have been officially received into the novitiate. What I didn’t know about at the time was the impact that the movie Therese had upon his vocation.
Stephen was fourteen years ago when he saw the movie and it sparked his desire to offer his life to God as the Little Flower did. He applied to several religious communities that had some connection to St. Therese but they did not accept his application because he had epilepsy. Finally, the Benedictine monks at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon accepted his application to enter religious life. He was so happy to know that part of the Therese movie was filmed at the abbey. It was confirmation that this was where he was meant to be.
A short time before he died, Stephen joked: “When we’re novices, they have to bury us in the Abbey cemetery.” He was indeed buried in the cemetery, clad forever in the habit of a Benedictine novice.
All of this interesting information came from the latest newsletter from Saint Luke Productions, the producers of Therese. They are trying to raise the funds for a new live production on the life of Fr. Augustus Tolton, one that they hope will also impact souls ala Therese.
Fr. Tolton (1854-1897) was the first diocesan African-American priest and one who suffered unbelievably as an African-American Catholic. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Quincy, in southern Illinois, and later came to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics.
His cause for canonization is underway. The Archdiocese of Chicago brought the final diocesan phase of the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Tolton to a close just over a month ago. (See ToltonCanonization.org for up-to-date information.)
Bishop Joseph Perry said, ““Father Tolton’s story is one of suffering service. Through his experiences of racial negation by a society that would separate black and white by force of the law and lawless custom, (Father) Tolton found the love of God, found his own vocation and ultimately has received his reward from God as a pioneer figure of Christian faith in action, indiscriminate love of neighbor and pastoral charity despite the bigotry that was thrown at him. The record of his life is absent (of) any show of retaliation toward anyone or anything.”
If you would like to help Saint Luke Productions bring this extraordinary drama to the world, please consider giving them a gift. It may help one soul, like Br. Stephen Fox, find his or her vocation, one that will carry them into eternity.