Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver reboot Court and Council 94 in diocese
The Diocese of Buffalo welcomed back a longtime Catholic fraternal order in October by re-establishing the Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of Peter Claver. Using its old council and court number of 94, the Buffalo group plans to address several social justice issues.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, St. Martin de Porres in Buffalo hosted the installation of the 15 new knights and 30 new ladies. Members of the national board attended, as did members from as far away as Los Angeles, New Orleans and Detroit who came to help celebrate.
Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, who helped establish a court in Sumpter, South Carolina, wished to re-establish the long dormant order in Buffalo when she returned to the city last year. Bishop Michael W. Fisher gave his support and blessing. The original Council and Court 94 was established in 1946 in Buffalo and was active until 1979.
“When I came back to Buffalo last year, I read that the knights and ladies had been established here. So, I talked with Bishop Mike. I said, ‘You know, I was thinking about the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver and how they could be a source of perhaps bringing a new kind of life back to the African American community here in Buffalo.’ He was very aware of the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver from Baltimore and also from Washington. So, he told me to go forward with it.”
Sister spoke to Rodney Richardson, Richard Clarke, Barbara Breckinridge and Lanette Jennings and the African American Commission to get their input for the prominently African American order.
“I thought this would be a wonderful way, when we’ve been talking about how do we continue to evangelize and get that fire, that spirit of zest going back into the community and enlivening our faith. They too were very, very excited about it,” Sister Roberta said.
Richardson was installed as the grand knight and Jennings as grand lady for Council and Court 94, with a whole roster of officers installed at the October Mass. Richardson is following in the footsteps of his father, who was a member back in the 1940s.
“It’s a good national organization that I wanted to be a part of,” he said.
The Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of Peter Claver formed in 1909 for service and outreach to the community. Peter Claver, a Spanish Jesuit priest, became patron of slaves due to his outreach and ministry to them. The Jesuits set up the Knights of Peter Claver for African Americans who could not join other fraternal organizations. The national goals involve addressing social justice issues, concentrating particularly on human trafficking, dignity, racism, environmentalism and prison ministry. Their first project was a collection for St. Lawrence Parish’s Christmas toy drive.
The nights and ladies also have a focus on young people with the Junior Knight and Junior Daughter groups welcoming young members, which they hope to establish in Buffalo.
“Our hope is that we will not just be an organization,” Sister Roberta said. “The whole goal is to see how you can serve the pastor and parishes in which we are located and the outreach to the community. So, it is a service organization at the will of the pastor and the bishop, seeing what kinds of things they would like to see us do.”