Celebrating 110 Years of Claverism!The Founding...
The Knights of Peter Claver's founding was celebrated on Sunday, November 7, 1909 in Mobile, Alabama with an all-day observance. Solemn High Mass was held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that morning with one of the founders, Reverend John Dorsey, serving as the homilist and Bishop Edward P. Allen presiding from his pontifical throne. Symbolically, the High Mass was a powerful plea for fraternal cooperation and the leading of exemplary lives for the Knights of Peter Claver – setting the spiritual tone for the organization.The Need...The early 1900s was an era when segregation was the rule of law in the South and Black men were denied membership in other Catholic fraternal organizations. The Founders established the Knights of Peter Claver to offer Black lay Catholics a way to find fellowship and work together to promote the Gospel while serving the community and promoting educational, social, and economic advances.
The initiation of the forty original members was climaxed that evening by the solemn benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Those in attendance believed that this fraternal order would be a spiritual asset to African-American Catholics.
The need for Catholic Action and the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism resulted in the Order providing help for the sick, death benefits, and various types of support for those in trouble.The Order Today...
The vision of a small group of devoted Catholics has manifested itself into the largest and oldest historically Black Catholic lay organization in the United States. The first 40 members initiated into the Knights of Peter Claver in 1909, led the way for the over 17,000 currently active members of the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary.
Today, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, religious, and Clergy all belong to the Claver family – an offering unique to the Order: providing opportunities to worship, serve, and fellowship for entire Catholic families.
While many of the difficulties, challenges, and needs of life have transformed, the focus of the Order has remained constant and relevant – just as the Gospel message has. Over 1,000 units, including Councils (Knights), Courts (Ladies), Junior Branches (Junior Knights), and Junior Courts (Junior Daughters), continue to minister, support, encourage, provide scholarships and charitable contributions, fellowship, and serve as beacons of Catholic Action.
The Order has six divisions to carry out its mission: The Knights of Peter Claver; Ladies Auxiliary; Fourth Degree Knights; Fourth Degree Ladies of Grace; Junior Knights; and Junior Daughters. Membership is open to all Catholics (ages 7 and older).
The Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary impacts the church parishes and local communities in which they serve by actively addressing spiritual, educational, economic, housing, social justice, and domestic issues through advocacy, programming, service, and financial support.
The Knights of Peter Claver was founded by four priests who ministered along the Gulf coast and three laymen who resided in Alabama. The four Josephite priests were dedicated missionaries focused on ministering to the spiritual, educational, and economic needs of Southern Blacks. They founded several churches and schools which still exist today. The three African-American lay founders were devout Catholics, strong family men, and successful in their professional careers and personal lives.