March 12, 2024 // Diocese

First Knights of Peter Claver Court Established in Diocese

By Today’s Catholic and Kimmi Troy

On Saturday, March 2, history was made in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend with the establishment of a Ladies Auxiliary Chapter of the Knights of Peter Claver. Several current and past national officers were in attendance for the event, as were members who came from as far away as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Detroit to help celebrate the first Knights of Peter Claver Court in the diocese.

The ladies and their families attended the St. Augustine’s Gospel Mass together with their new Knights of Peter Claver family on Sunday, March 3.

Photos provided by Kimmi Troy
On Saturday, March 2, the first Knights of St. Peter Claver Court was established in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in a ceremony at St. Augustine Parish in South Bend. Several current and past officers of the fraternal organization traveled from across the country to attend the event.

The Knights of Peter Claver is the oldest and largest historically African American Catholic lay organization in the United States. Named after St. Peter Claver, the Spanish Jesuit priest who ministered to African slaves, the order was founded in the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama, in 1909 for African American men who could not join other fraternal organizations. The Ladies Auxiliary was founded in 1926. With the establishment of the junior divisions, the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary became the only Catholic fraternal lay order to offer membership to the entire family.

The purpose of the order is to render services to God and His Church, to render aid and assistance to the sick and disabled, and to promote social and intellectual association among members. There are approximately 15,000 Knights and Ladies in the United States.

After returning from the National Black Catholic Congress last summer, some of the women were looking for a way to engage in fellowship with other spiritually like-minded women. They wanted to ensure that all women of the diocese know they are part of a larger community outside their individual parishes and that they are not alone. They also wanted to come together to encourage our youth and enhance their spiritual and social well-being.

Membership in the Ladies Auxiliary is open to all women of the diocese. You do not have to be African American or African to join. All you need to do is be Catholic and be concerned about the social justice issues that Black Catholics face. During a five-month period, recruitment invitations went out across the diocese to women in more than eight parishes. Recruitment efforts were also made on social media and by word of mouth. By forming the Ladies Auxiliary, women from St. Augustine, St. Pius X, and St. Therese, Little Flower Parishes joined together to render services to God, His holy Church, and our community across the diocese.

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