Alumnus Christopher Foley’s short film Across will air on EWTN at 10:00pm on December 18. This film is about Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, the first African-American priest ordained in the United States, who is now a candidate for the sainthood.
The short film focuses on Tolton’s family’s escape from a life of slavery on a plantation in Missouri. Tolton’s father fled the plantation to join the Union’s effort in the civil war, leaving 10-year-old Tolton, his mother, and his baby sister to outrun slave catchers and find freedom in the north. When his family was granted amnesty and settled in Quincy, Illinois, Tolton discovered Catholicism and his vocation to the priesthood.
Since graduating from Christendom in 1994 with a degree in history, Foley has been working in the film and television industry. When he heard about Fr. Tolton’s story, he knew he wanted to use his skills in filmmaking to tell the world of Fr. Tolton’s inspirational life on the big screen. Partnering with late alumnus Matthew Cameron (’93), the pair worked tirelessly to bring Fr. Tolton’s story to life on screen.
“My thesis, when I went to Christendom College, was about slavery and the Civil War,” Foley told JP Mauro of Aleteia News. “It’s just something that’s always been in my wheelhouse and then to combine the Catholic element with it … I just thought it was the story of an American Catholic hero and it needed to be told.”
The short film has been successful at film festivals and well received by a wide range of audiences, but Foley has plans to turn the short film into a 2-hour feature, with work set to begin on the project in the summer of 2020. The full-length film hopefully will show in theaters in 2021.
“The majority of Catholic priests are good and holy men and we need to see their example throughout history. Father Tolton is one of those priests,” Foley told Aleteia. “He’s probably going to become the first African-American saint and the reason he’s a saint is not because of his color, but because of his faith.”
To learn more about the film, visit the Across movie website.
Watch the trailer here: