Knights of Peter Claver

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A predominantly African-American Catholic fraternal organization founded Nov. 7, 1909 at Mobile, Ala., by three Black laymen (Gilbert Faustina, Frank Collins and Frank Trenier) and four Josephite fathers (Revs. Conrad F. Rebesher, John H. Dorsey, Samuel J. Kelly and Joseph P. Van Baast), and placed under the patronage of St. Peter Claver. It was incorporated on July 12, 1911. The organization was later extended to include fourth-degree knights (1917), junior knights (1917), ladies auxiliary (1922), and junior daughters (1930). The constitutions of the national council were revised nine times (1925, 1929, 1936, 1948, 1951, 1971, 1979, 1989, and 1999). The Ladies' Auxiliary was recognized as a division of the National Council at Galveston, Texas in August of 1926, and the Junior Knights recognized as a division of the National Council from Oct. 1, 1935 onwards. The order operates in over 56 archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States.

The purpose of the order is to render service to God and to the Church by promoting the brotherhood of man, especially through spiritual and corporal works of mercy and various other Catholic activities. Historically, the order operated mutual aid, thrift, social, educational and poverty-alleviation programs, and supported endeavors promoting desegregation in the South and the extension of suffrage to African Americans. The order continues to collaborate in mutual projects with the National Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Negro Women, National Council of Catholic Women, Urban League, Sickle Cell Anema Foundation, Xavier University Development and Expansion Fund, The Sr. Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation, The International Alliance of Catholic Knights, the National Black Catholic Congress, and National Black Clergy and National Black Sisters' Conferences. Besides offering educational scholarships and financial aid, the order supports a variety of charitable appeals. It contributed $100,000 toward the construction of Our Mother of Africa Chapel in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. that was dedicated at the closing liturgy of the 8th National Black Catholic Congress in August of 1997.

The order has had 13 supreme knights: Gilbert Faustina (190926), Louis Israel (192640), Alphonse Auguste (1941), John H. Clouser (194146), J. Roland Prejean (194652), Beverly V. Baranco, Jr. (195258), Eugene B. Perry (195864), Shields G. Gilmore, Jr. (19641970), Ernest Granger, Sr. (197076), Murray J. Frank (19761982), Chester J. Jones (198288), Paul C. Condoll (19881994) and A. Jackie Elly (1994 ). In the Ladies' Auxiliary, there have been ten Supreme Ladies: Mrs. M. L. Lunnon (192628), Mrs. A. R. Aubry (19281952), Mrs. E. B. Jones (19521958), Mrs. Inez Y. Bowman (19581964), Mrs. Thelma P. Lombard (196470), Mrs. Florence W. Lee (19701976), Mrs. Elise LeNoir Morris (19761982), Mrs. Consuella M. Broussard (19821988), Mrs. Dorothy B. Henderson (19881994) and Ms. Leodia Gooch (1994 ).

The first official journal of the order was the Shield, which commenced publication in November of 1910. In 1922, it was renamed the Claverite, and since 1974 it is published semi-annually. The headquarters of the order is located at 1825 Orleans Ave., New Orleans, LA 70116.

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Knights of Peter Claver

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