I’m Just Curious when the Seminaries started accepting Black/African-American candidates.
Someone correct me if I am wrong, I don’t have any research to back this claim up. This is purely my conjecture!
I would think that since Catholicism has been around for 2,000 years and has existed in Africa for most, if not all of that time, black priests date back to antiquity.
As for black priests in America, I really can’t help there.
You can read about Fr. Augustine Tolton ordained 1886.
If you do a google search for the first black Pope, you will find Pope Victor I from 189-199.
If you do a google search for the first black priest in the USA, you will come up with Fr. Augustine Tolton, who was ordained in 1886.
He atteneded seminary in Rome, and was ordained at St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Church of Rome, Italy, and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope.
Pope Victor I (d199) was the First african Pope
Other prominent African Saints and Priests were; St. Augustine of Hippo(d430 - Bishop), Pope Saint Miltiades (d314- Pope), Saint Moses (d405- Priest), Saint Fulgentius (d533-Bishop), Saint Quintian (d525-Priest), Saint Quodvultdeus (d450 Deacon-Bishop), Zeno of Verona (d371-Bishop).
Not all Africans are black, especially the north Africans. Are we talking about west Africans of the same stock as US slaves?
Well St Moses was almost certainly a black person; hence his epithet “the black”. There is no reason to believe that the (some of the) others were not black; although as you point out it would be wrong to assume with certainty that they were all black; as many could have been from Rome or other areas; or from areas of africa where skin color is not so prevalent (Egypt).
A good reference, and since he was from the region of Ethiopia, I would also point out that the Aksum Empire (roughly modern Ethiopia) made Christianity its state religion in 325 AD. Christianity has been a strong influence there ever since.
It would be reasonable that some residents of the Aksum Empire might become priests. And some of them might have had the dark skin typical in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Classical times, no distinction was made between black and white, so the race of Catholics in those times was not identified in the records we have. I have wondered who would now be considered black. if perhaps St Augustine was for example or perhaps many of the saints and martyrs of the Roman Empire from the earliest years of Christianity. I would not at all be surprised if this was so, and of course there were many priests among them.