WILMINGTON — More than 30 were initiated into a new St. Peter Claver council in Wilmington, Del. on Sept. 23.
A group of Knights and Ladies from Chicago, a group from Detroit and another from Philadelphia arrived at St. Joseph Church in Wilmington to establish the Bishop Joseph Francis Council #383 of the Knights of St. Peter Claver and St. Josephine Bakhita Court #383 of the Ladies Auxiliary. Eighteen women and 13 men were initiated, including John Frambes, pastor of St. Joseph, who was appointed chaplain to the Knights by Bishop Saltarelli.
According to John, the organization was founded in 1909, during the dark days of segregation when four Josephite priests and three African-American laymen founded the Knights of Saint Peter Claver in Mobile, Ala. A parallel group was formed for women, the Ladies Auxiliary of St. Peter Claver.
Though membership in these groups was and always has been open to all Catholics, in reality, most members are African-American, John added.
The pageantry of the Knights and Ladies and the voices of the Diocese of Wilmington Gospel Choir enhanced the celebration of Sunday Mass. Monsignor Joseph Rebman, vicar for pastoral services, presided at the Mass and installed the new officers of the Knights and Ladies .
The new council and court are the first in Delaware. The Clavers now have groups in 40 states.
The objective of the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., and the Ladies Auxiliary, includes awarding scholarships, fostering recreational assembly facilities, and providing social and intellectual fellowship for its members.