The Meritorious Fourth Degree is the highest degree bestowed upon members of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. Members of the Fourth Degree Knights are addressed as “Sir Knight”. Members of the Ladies of Grace are addressed as “Gracious Lady.” At the present time, there are approximately 1,025 Sir Knights and 1,800 Gracious Ladies throughout the Order.
The need for a meritorious degree was first considered in 1917, and the Fourth Degree Knights were established in 1926. The Fourth Degree Ladies of Grace were authorized in 1979, and the first Ladies of Grace Chapter was established in February, 1981. Today, there are 49 Assemblies and 50 Chapters active throughout the United States.
Fourth Degree Grand Assemblies and Grand Chapters are different from Councils and Courts, as they are led by a separate set of elected officers with unique titles to each office. Every two years at Conclave, the general membership of the Supreme General Assembly and Supreme General Chapter elects a Supreme Navigator and eight (8) Supreme Officers to govern the Fourth Degree Sir Knights and Ladies of Grace. The Immediate Past Supreme Navigator, by virtue of their service and rank, remains on their respective governing boards in an advisory capacity, giving each Supreme Board a total of ten (10) Supreme Officers. The current Supreme Navigators are properly addressed by using the title “Most Faithful”, while all past Supreme Navigators are properly addressed by the title “Past Most Faithful”, and all other current Supreme Officers are properly addressed by using the title “Very Faithful”.
The local units are comprised of Fourth Degree Grand Assemblies and Fourth Degree Ladies of Grace Grand Chapters. Each Assembly and Chapter is led by the Navigator. Other elected Assembly and Chapter officers includes the Captain, Comptroller, Purser, Scribe, Steward, Pilot, Inner Sentinel and Outer Sentinel. Assembly and Chapter officers are properly addressed by using the title “Faithful” (e.g., Faithful Navigator). Unlike Councils and Courts, there is only one (1) Assembly and Chapter for any given metropolitan area. Each Assembly and Chapter is numbered by the order in which they chartered into the order, and are named by the local membership upon establishment.
Only Fourth Degree Knights may purchase the full regalia and join the Assembly’s Honor Guard. The Honor Guard is the most visible arm of the Knights of Peter Claver, as they are often seen in parades and other events wearing their colorful regalia. The official dress for the Guards of Honor is to wear a black tuxedo, plain white shirt, black bow tie, baldric, chapeau with plume, cape, sword, white gloves and lapel pin.
In the Meritorious Fourth Degree Division, there has been eighteen Supreme Navigators: Gilbert Faustina, 1926 to 1940; Oscar Figaro, 1940 to 1943; Edward E. Cross, Sr., 1943 to November, 1943; Peter Chenier, November, 1943 to August 1946; Earnest E. Delpit, 1946 to 1950; Thomas R. Lee, Jr., 1950 to 1958; Felton Lawrence, 1958 to 1970; Reginald Rouzan, 1970 to 1982; James M. Seals, Jr., 1982 to1988; Dr. Charles D. Proctor, 1988 to 1990; Sylvester Davis, 1990 to 1995; Dwight Alexander, 1995 to 2002, Harry Beevers, Jr., 2002 to 2008; James A. Neal, 2008 to 2014; Daniel Santos, 2014 to 2016; Lawrence Sylvester, 2016 to 2018; Stephen J. Randall, 2018 to 2021, and Reginald C. Auzenne, 2021 to the present.
Among the many charitable works of the Meritorious Fourth Degree Knights of Peter Claver is the Advance Leadership Committee (A.L.C.), to publicize the works of the Meritorious Fourth Degree, and the Vocations committee, to energize membership in support of the evangelization and ongoing efforts of the clergy.
In the Meritorious Fourth Degree, Ladies of Grace Division, there have been ten Supreme Navigators; Mrs. Mattie Lampkins, 1981 to 1982; Mrs. Rose A. Labostrie, 1982 to 1986; Mrs. Henrietta R. Porter, 1986 to 1992; Ms. Irene T. Green, 1992 to 1998; Mrs., Juanita Burden, 1998 to 2002; Mrs. Geralyn C. Shelvin, 2002 to 2006; Ms. Michelle C. Jackson, 2006 to 2008; Mrs. Audrey Woods, 2008 to 2014; Mrs. Marion Smith-Reynoso, 2014 to 2021, and Mrs. Jackie Simien-Guillory, 2021 to the present.
Among the many charitable works of the Meritorious Fourth Degree and Ladies of Grace Division are “Educate the Religious” and “Partners in Education” projects adopted by the Ladies of Grace Division.
Most Faithful Supreme Navigator
Sir Knight Reginald C. Auzenne