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History of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc.

Patron Saint

History of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc.History shows that trials and tribulations test the mettle and bring out the best in those servants of God whose lives are grounded in humility, patience, and complete submission to the will of God. Peter Claver is an excellent example of this. Born in 1581 in Verdu, Spain of noble and well-to-do parents, he decided to become a Jesuit priest. He was assigned to Cartegena, Colombia, South America, a port that was part of the "Middle Passage," where approximately 1,000 slaves landed every month. By the "Apostolate of Presence," Father Claver proved himself a friend and advocate to these poor unfortunates. Braving social ostracism, he administered to the ill, cleaning their wounds and feeding them. After 40 years of serving Christ and the poor, over 300,000 had embraced the Faith, responding to his language of love. From these, Father Claver formed an elite group to assist in the services to others. We believe that these were the first real Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver. Peter Claver completed his stay on earth September 8, 1654. Pope Leo XIII declared him a saint January 15, 1888.

The Order

The modern Knights of Peter Claver was founded in 1909 as an organization to allow Negroes full membership in a Catholic fraternity. The organization was incorporated in 1911 at Mobile, Alabama. The Church has given the Order such strong support through the years that it now boasts nearly 1000 subordinate units of Catholic family members throughout the United States.

Goals and Objectives

  • To participate collectively in various parish and community activities
  • To promote Civic Improvements and Social Justice
  • To encourage Lay Apostolic and Catholic action
  • To make contributions to worthwhile causes
  • To award scholarships and support education
  • To foster recreational assemblies and facilities
  • To develop youth in a positive, nurturing environment
  • To provide social and intellectual fellowship for its members

Ladies Auxiliary

The Ladies' Auxiliary was authorized and their Constitution adopted at Opelousas, Louisiana in August 1922; in the Constitution of the National Council, the Ladies' Auxiliary was recognized as a Division of the National Council at Galveston, Texas in August 1926.

Junior Division

The Constitution of the Junior Knights was revised establishing the Junior Knights as a Division of the National Council, effective October 1, 1935. The Junior Daughters Division was established in 1930. The Constitution for Junior Knights was compiled by one of our founders, the Reverend Joseph P. Van Baast, S. S .J. and his committee.

4th Degree/4th Degree Ladies of Grace

The Meritorious Fourth Degree was authorized in 1917. The Ladies of Grace was established in 1980 and celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2005.

The Claverite

The first official organ of the Order was The Shield published for the first time at Mobile, Alabama, November, 1910, with Frank Trenier, Charter Member and National Secretary, as Editor. The successor to The Shield is the The Claverite, authorized in 1922 as a monthly publication. The Claverite was changed to a semi-annual publication in 1974. The Claverite is produced semiannually and edited by the Executive Director.

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