Category: Feature Stories

Requiescat in Pace Father John Joseph McBrearty

Father John Joseph McBrearty

The Josephite parishioners of St. Therese of Lisieux parish in Gulfport, MS, were saddened by the sudden death of their pastor, Father John Joseph McBrearty, on the afternoon of December 1, 2018.  At 87, he was the oldest active Josephite pastor. He is survived by a dear Sister-in Law, Evelyn McBrearty, of Donegal, Ireland. Three loving nieces, Noleen and Carmel, of Donegal, Ireland, and Rosemary of Sussex, England. A host loving of cousins in New York City.

Father McBrearty was born in Kilkar County, Donegal, Ireland on March 23, 1931.  After being educated in Ireland, he migrated to Chicago, IL and worked there for four years.  In 1958, he felt a vocation call to study for the priesthood with the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart, and entered Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, New York. Upon completion of his studies, John continued through the novitiate year and then priestly formation at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC. On June 1, 1968, he was ordained a Josephite priest by Patrick Cardinal O. Boyle in Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian Church in Washington.

Fr. John’s first two priestly years were spent as an associate pastor at St. Vincent DePaul parish in Washington, DC.  Six years after this assignment he served as associate pastor at Church of the Epiphany parish in New Orleans.  He returned in 1974 to minister for three years as associate in Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Washington, DC.

Fr. John McBrearty received his first assignment as pastor in 1977, to Immaculate Conception parish in Lebeau, LA. After a brief stay he was assigned to Houston, TX, to pastor Our Lady Star of the Sea Church.  Four years later he did a two-year pastorate at Prince of Peace parish in Mobile, AL, followed by a six-year pastoral ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Church at Breaux Bridge, LA. In 1986 he served for one year at St. Joseph parish in Wilmington, DE, as pastor.

During the next sixteen years, Fr. McBrearty served as pastor at Sacred Heart, Raywood, TX (3 years), St. Joseph, Alexandria, VA (5 years) and St. Augustine, New Roads, LA (8 years).  He recently completed a renovation of the 80-year-old parish church at Gulfport, Mississippi.

A Funeral Mass for Fr. McBrearty will be held at 6:00 pm at St. Therese of Lisieux Church on Thursday, December 6, 2018.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, December 7, 2018 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  Burial will follow in the parish cemetery.

May he be at peace in his 50th year as a priest.

Bishops overwhelmingly approve pastoral against racism

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a pastoral letter against racism Nov. 14 during their fall general meeting at Baltimore.

The document, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love — A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” passed 241-3 with one abstention. It required a two-thirds vote by all bishops, or 183 votes, for passage.

“Despite many promising strides made in our country, racism still infects our nation,” the pastoral letter says. “Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love,” it adds.

Bishops speaking on the pastoral gave clear consent to the letter’s message.

“This statement is very important and very timely,” said Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. He appreciated that the letter took note of the racism suffered by African-Americans and Native Americans, “two pieces of our national history that we have not reconciled.”

“This will be a great, fruitful document for discussion,” said Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, in whose diocese the violence-laden “Unite the Right” rally was held last year. Bishop Knestout added the diocese has already conducted listening sessions on racism.

Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, what he called “ground zero for the civil rights movement,” said the pastoral’s message is needed, as the civil rights movement “began 60 years ago and we’re still working on achieving the goals in this document.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said he was grateful for the pastoral’s declaration that “an attack against the dignity of the human person is an attack the dignity of life itself.”

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said the letter will be welcome among Native Americans, who populate 11 missions in the diocese, African-Americans in Arizona — “I think we were the last of the 50 states to be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday,” he noted — and Hispanics, who make up 80 percent of all diocesan Catholics under age 20.

“This is very important for our people and our youth to know the history of racism,” he added.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, La., center, attends morning prayer Nov. 13 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Shelton T. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, said an electronic copy of “Open Wide Our Hearts” would be posted “somewhat immediately,” with a print version available around Thanksgiving.

“Also, there will be resources available immediately” now that the pastoral letter has been approved, including Catholic school resources for kindergarten through 12th grade, added the bishop, who also is chair of the bishops’ Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

“‘Open Wide Our Hearts’ conveys the bishops’ grave concern about the rise of racist attitudes in society,” Bishop Fabre said Nov. 13, when the pastoral was put on the floor of the bishops’ meeting. It also “offers practical suggestions for individuals, families and communities,” he said.

“Every racist act — every such comment, every joke, every disparaging look as a reaction to the color of skin, ethnicity or place of origin — is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God,” it adds.

“Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices, and African-Americans, for suspected criminal activity. There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees.”

“Personal sin is freely chosen,” a notion that would seem to include racism, said retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Nov. 13, but “social sin is collective blindness. There is sin as deed and sin as illness. It’s a pervasive illness that runs through a culture.” Bishop Fabre responded that the proposed letter refers to institutional and structural racism.

An amendment from Bishop Ramirez to include this language in the pastoral was accepted by the bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which guided the document’s preparation.

Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, Texas, said Nov. 13 the pastoral “gives us a wonderful opportunity to educate, to convert,” adding that, given recent incidents, the document should give “consideration to our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Bishop Fabre replied that while anti-Semitism is mentioned in the document, future materials will focus on anti-Semitism.

A proposed amendment to the pastoral to include the Confederate battle flag in the pastoral alongside nooses and swastikas as symbols of hatred was rejected by the committee.

“Nooses and swastikas are widely recognized signs of hatred, the committee commented, but “while for many the Confederate flag is also a sign of hatred and segregation, some still claim it as a sign of heritage.”

Art at St. Benedict the African reflects experience of black Catholics

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
June 20, 2018

In the 1970s, when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin asked Catholics in Englewood what they wanted the church in their neighborhood to look like, they said, “themselves.”

The historically German and Irish neighborhood had experienced white flight and the Catholic population plummeted as the area became predominantly African-American.

Eight parishes merged into two — St. Benedict the African-East and St. Benedict the African-West — and parishioners were looking for religious images that reflected their own experience, said parishioner Arthur Eiland, who moved to Englewood in the 1950s with his wife, Ann, and their family.

The pastor at St. Benedict the African-East had an eye for art, Eiland said, and that made all of the difference. The two parishes merged in 2016.
When planning the art for the new church, the parish initially reached out to Jan Spivey-Gilchrist, who created several paintings and a tapestry for the parish, the most striking of which are two large paintings of St. Benedict the African and Mary and the child Jesus. Both are modeled after real people, and the former includes actual homes in the neighborhood.

Spivey-Gilchrist, who is the daughter of a Baptist minister and not Catholic, had been connected to the Catholic community since she was a teenager living in Englewood. She was a counselor with the neighborhood youth core, which had a site at the now-closed St. Brendan, along with the Catholic Youth Organization.

She worked as a counselor in the after-school and summer programs as an art teacher. The pastor at the time even paid for her to take Saturday classes for high school students at the Art Institute of Chicago.

She has created religious art depicting African Americans ever since.

“The only dark person I saw in the big painting of the Last Supper was Judas,” she said. “Children aren’t stupid. As a child, nobody had to tell me that good didn’t include us but I had a father who did.”

Her father helped her and her siblings see their value and worth.

“My father always made us feel that we were innately good because we were in the image of God,” she said. “Heaven has to be a place that you can go. It can’t be a country club that’s private and doesn’t include you.”

The community made that experience come to life visually when a new St. Benedict the African-East Church opened in 1990 on the site of St. Bernard Church, which was torn down in 1967 after a snowstorm caused the roof to cave in. Prior to that, parishioners worshiped in the school gym.

“They said they wanted a church that reflected our culture, and it does,” said Tiombe Eiland, the daughter of Arthur and Ann. “It’s shaped like an African hut. There’s no other church like this.”

The architecture is so unique that the church is included in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago, and it has received about 2,000 visitors each of the last two years.

When decorating the church, the parish commissioned stained glass windows that feature images of St. Benedict the African with the Chicago skyline in the background and, in the vestibule, ones featuring Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth. Other art includes original Stations of the Cross; a hand-carved wooden statue of St. Martin de Porres in a setting also featuring the Chicago skyline; a large hand-woven tapestry that hangs behind the altar; and a crucifix in the tradition of the San Damiano cross that features historical figures key to the history of black Catholics in America, such as Father Augustus Tolton.

A focal point is a large baptismal font that holds 10,000 gallons of water and other African accents in the altar and woodwork.
It’s important to see yourself reflected in the worship space, Tiombe Eiland said.

“All of us grew up with images of Christ as a white person. I’d never seen a Catholic Church that reflected the ethnicity of black people,” Tiombe said. “You might occasionally see a statue of St. Martin de Porres, but I’d never seen a church that was dedicated to showing the culture of the people and the history of the people.”

As a teenager, Tiombe questioned why there were no images in Catholic churches that looked like her.

“I didn’t see the representation of myself and I thought it was deliberate that it wasn’t there. I told my parents I didn’t like it and was angry about it,” Tiombe said.

For a time she attended other Christian churches, but never renounced her Catholic faith. She returned to Mass when the new church opened.

“I do think it’s extremely important for children and young people to see images of themselves in Christ,” she said. “If Christ embraces everyone there should be images that reflect our people and that coloring of Christ. Even where Jesus grew up, you wouldn’t think he had blonde hair and blue eyes.”

The tradition of creating art at the parish continued after St. Benedict the African-East and West merged. To mark the occasion, the parish commissioned an original Mass written by the Kevin Johnson of Spellman College in Atlanta. The Spellman Glee Club performed portions of the Mass during a concert at on April 14.

“It’s something new, something different, something African, something African-American and something Catholic, something we can share with other parishes, something that can grow and something that helps us remember what God has done and is doing through him, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,” said Father David Jones, pastor, of the Mass.

“The art of St. Benedict the African Parish, the Catholic Church in Englewood, teaches the faith, restores the faith, collects the faith and the faithful,” Jones said. “It shows that God is in Englewood. Always has been and always will be.”

Copyright © 2018 Chicago Catholic

A black Catholic experience at a royal wedding? Believe it

I never saw it coming — a British royal wedding that brought American black culture center stage before the world!

This happened May 19 as Prince Henry of Wales, known as Prince Harry, wedded former American actress Rachel Meghan Markle. Now she is the Duchess of Sussex, elevated to stratospheric fame.

It was surreal to me how their wedding ceremony reflected aspects dear to American black Catholics.

As director of the Office of Black Ministry for the Diocese of Brooklyn in the 1980s, I joined leaders nationwide to develop programs highlighting cultural contributions of blacks to the church that were indispensable to those desiring to minister more effectively in significantly black parishes.

Our workshops and conferences introduced outstanding lecturers, singers, clergy, religious and lay people as facilitators. We welcomed non-blacks to our functions that aimed to be spiritually uplifting for all.

Most, however, were content to remain where they already were. No amount of public relations could make them budge.

But this royal wedding turned the tide. It put in place a worldwide captive audience. The rich and poor alike of every nationality were not going to budge from their televisions, their coveted seats in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, or their positions along roadsides.

So without forewarning they got a taste. The spoon was down their throats and out before they could swallow! The experience others labored almost in vain to get across was at last delivered, and people will be talking about it for years to come.

You see, blacks in America have always been accustomed to ministers, regardless of their race, who talk to us, not at us with written scripts, and with passion.

I heard this intimacy in Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry’s powerful sermon on the power of love that touched upon the Old Testament, America’s painful legacy of slavery and civil rights struggles.

I nearly fell out of my bed when I heard the British gospel choir deliver the soul classic “Stand by Me” made popular by American singer Ben E. King. It had a flawless grace rarely associated with the ’60s hit.

Then there was Etta James’ version of “This Little Light of Mine” resounding as Prince Harry and Meghan exited the church. The lyrics were written as a gospel song for children in the 1920s and later became an anthem of the American civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. The words convey a determination to be the best one can be, appropriately saluting the bride and all who struggle against adversities.

Like James, considered one of the greatest soul singers of all time, Meghan has had a tumultuous life. She is the daughter of a white father of Dutch-Irish origin and an African-American mother who married two years before Meghan was born in 1981 and divorced when she was 6. Meghan was raised a Protestant but attended an all-girls Catholic high school outside Los Angeles. She married and divorced a Jewish man, and in March was baptized as an Anglican by the archbishop of Canterbury.

“This Little Light of Mine” may be beloved by Protestants, but it is also considered by many American black Catholics to be our own national anthem as we share our gifts in the Catholic Church.

A close runner up is the African-American spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead,” another wedding selection that holds onto hope for God’s healing and liberation.

***

by Carole Norris Greene, Catholic News Service

Greene was an associate editor in CNS’ Special Projects department for nearly 22 years.

‘Racism is a pro-life issue’: The Catholic Church’s latest response to racism in America

The Catholic Church possesses clear doctrine that racism is a sin, even defining it as a broadly “pro-life” issue in a sweeping new document. It offers dozens of programs and opportunities to address it.

Yet the church’s leaders in Southwest Ohio admit to a frustrating disconnect with many of the faithful on the topic.

“We’re not getting the message across as clearly as we should,” said Cincinnati’s archbishop, the Most Rev. Dennis Schnurr.

“The dignity of the human person knows no color. We’re all made in the image and likeness of God. We all have our own talents, so we don’t all reflect God in the same way. Color is one trait, but it’s a trait that comes from God.”

The Catholic Church’s struggles with race and racism are similar to other Christian denominations here and across the country. But with 461,000 members and the nation’s sixth largest Catholic school system with about 43,000 students, the archdiocese is the most influential denomination in the area.

Read more of the article here.

by , mcurnutte@enquirer.com

The newest Josephite priest; Reverend Father Kingsley Ogbuji, SSJ Ordained Saturday 19th May 2018.

Congratulations Reverend Father Kingsley Ogbuji, SSJ

Ordination day of Fr. Kingsley with the ordaining bishop Ricard. Saturday 19th May 2018.

Runaway slave-turned-priest moves closer to beatification

Catholic News Agency

May 13, 2018

CHICAGO, Illinois – The first African American priest in the U.S. could become the country’s first African American saint as his cause took another step forward this week.

A document summarizing the life, virtue, and alleged miracles of Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton, known as the positio, was unanimously approved as historically correct by a committee of six Vatican officials this week, clearing the way for the priest’s cause for canonization to continue moving forward.

Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago and diocesan postulator for the Tolton cause, called the approval a “very positive sign going forward” and noted its significance for the African American Catholic Community.

“Father Tolton lived during a particularly tumultuous time in American history especially for race relations,” Perry said in a statement.

“He was a pioneer of his era for inclusiveness drawing both blacks and whites to his parish in Quincy. However, due to his race, he suffered discrimination and condemnation. The beatification and canonization of Father Tolton will signal a significant milestone in the history of black Catholicism in the United States.”

Born in Missouri on April 1, 1854, John Augustine Tolton fled slavery with his mother and two siblings in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

“John, boy, you’re free. Never forget the goodness of the Lord,” Tolton’s mother told him after the crossing, according to the website of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Chicago.

The young Tolton entered St. Peter’s Catholic School with the help of the school’s pastor, Father Peter McGirr. McGirr would later baptize him and instruct him for his first Holy Communion. Tolton was serving as an altar boy by the next summer.

The priest asked Tolton if he would like to become a priest, saying it would take 12 years of hard study. The excited boy then said they should go to church and pray for his success.

After graduating from high school and Quincy College, he began his ecclesiastical studies in Rome, because no American seminary would accept him on account of his race.

On April 24, 1886 he was ordained in Rome by Cardinal Lucido Maria Parocchi, who was then the vicar general of Rome. Newspapers throughout the U.S. carried the story.

Tolton was ordained for the southern Illinois Diocese of Quincy. Upon his return in July 1886, he was greeted at the train station “like a conquering hero,” the website of St. Elizabeth’s Parish says.

First Black Catholic Priest On His Way To Sainthood

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The first black Catholic priest ordained for the United States, who served in Chicago for several years, is one step closer to being named a “saint.”

The story of Fr. Augustus Tolton has been officially examined and approved by a historical commission at the Vatican which Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry describes as a “significant hurdle” to get over on the road to sainthood.

Bishop Perry believes that, by virtue of the approval of that historcal record, the “positio,” Tolton eventually will reach sainthood.

It still will literally take at least one, possibly two miracles.

“A lot of that depends, of course, if we can find an intervention of God for someone for which medicine cannot explain, a turnaround in health. We sent two candidates for that over and we’re hoping that at least one of them might be approved,” Bishop Perry said.

A theological commission will now examine the way Fr. Tolton led his life and another panel will seek to confirm miracles said to have happened because of people praying to Fr. Tolton. Bishop Perry says two possible miracles have been presented.  The bishop did not want to identify the people to whom those possible miracles occurred.

“It all depends on that miracle,” he said.

Fr. Tolton started St. Monica Church on the South Side in 1889 and died in Chicago in 1897 at the age of 43.

Bishop Perry said the Archdiocese of Chicago sent to Rome in 2014, 2,000 pages worth of documents on the life of Fr. Tolton.

To get to the point they are today, the bishop said six historical consultants looked at all of that material issued as a “heavily referenced” official story of Fr. Tolton’s life.  The archdiocese was told March 8 that the historical commission had approved the records sent from Chicago.

Bishop Perry said that, what makes Fr. Tolton a good candidate for sainthood, in his view, is that, “a lot of his life has to do with perseverance in a rather difficult time socially, the division among the races and the condition of American blacks, freed slaves, escaped slaves, people of color.”

The bishop said Fr. Tolton “was something of a pioneer in things like integration, bringing people together in a Christian community for which society, the Church just were not ready for.”

Bishop Perry said that, right now, the Vatican is examining 35 or 36 candidates for sainthood from the United States.

Learn more about Fr. Tolton in the book from the Josephite Pastoral Center.

Archbishop Gregory: Catholics must stand against race and gender injustices

Fifty years since the U.S. civil rights movement, racism, sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation and a host of other societal challenges “continue to hold us captive,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory told a group of U.S. priests gathered in Chicago on April 26.

The Atlanta archbishop, who is a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that “many collective social injustices have not greatly improved over the past half-century and in some situations, a few may have even grown worse.”

Among the persistent ills that must be addressed, he said, is racism, which he described as “more subtle perhaps” today than in generations past but “no less degrading,” as well as “unabashed economic injustice from which certain classes can never fully escape.” He said criminal justice challenges remain, noting that U.S. prisons are “overflowing with inmates disproportionately representing people of color” and said body cameras worn by some police officers reveal occasional “violence against unarmed people much like that which others suffered in 1968.”

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Martin Luther King’s legacy: faith, hope and sacrifice

Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News).- Fifty years after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Catholics can still learn much from his legacy, said a leader in the largest predominantly black Catholic organization in the U.S.

“Dr. King’s legacy is one of faith and overcoming external forces working against you. His life, work, and ultimate sacrifice illustrate that we are called to work for the greater good,” Percy Marchand, associate director of the Knights of Peter Claver, told CNA April 3. “Dr. King’s legacy is a shining example of self-deprecation and personal sacrifice for one’s fellow man.”

“Dr. King would not want us to look upon this day in sadness,” Marchand continued. “He would want us to look at it with inspiration and rededication; with hope and commitment; with love and compassion – even for our enemies or those who don’t love us.”

The Knights of Peter Claver is a New Orleans-based Catholic fraternal order present in about 39 states and in South America. Its membership is significantly African-American but open to all practicing Catholics without regard to race or ethnicity. Many of its members played a role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, in which King, a Baptist minister, was the most prominent leader.

On Wednesday, the order joined in observing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 assassination of King in Memphis, Tenn. Catholic Bishop of Memphis Martin D. Holley led celebrations of two Masses and a “Walk of Faith” from a Catholic church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for a program and a moment of silence.

Knights of Peter Claver Supreme Knight James Ellis and executive director Grant Jones were among those in attendance at the Memphis events.

“Dr. King was just a young man when he accepted the challenge that would ultimately lead him to being one of the most influential and powerful leaders in our history,” Marchand told CNA. “He wasn’t a millionaire. He wasn’t famous. He hadn’t ‘made it.’ We must each look at our lives and ask what we are doing to lead, to serve, to positively impact the world in which we live.”

“Our Catholic faith is rooted in humanity and teaches us that we were created in the image and likeness of God,” he continued. “Therefore, we have no room for promotion or tolerance of racism.”

While many Catholics were involved in the civil rights movement from the start, “there were many more who were actively fighting against civil rights and still more who stood silent,” Marchand noted, stressing that Catholics must be “strong in our faith” and must live out Catholic social teaching.

“We must directly face the evils that tend to divide us or negatively impact others,” he said. “This is what our Teacher, Jesus Christ, illustrated through His own life.”

“Dr. King taught us to be principled and genuine in our faith and actions. He taught us not to lower ourselves or compromise our values. He taught us to have faith and be obedient to our Heavenly Father rather than dwell on worldly problems,” said Marchand, adding that King “allowed God to lead his path and ultimately, his message prevailed.”

Marchand suggested many Catholics needs to improve their efforts to truly understand diversity and inclusion.

“The Church must be bold and purpose-driven when it comes to standing up for what is right and just – for all people,” he said.

Historically, some in the Catholic Church failed to stand up against segregation and racism, Marchand said.

“While the Church has certainly become more diverse in the years since the civil rights movement, Catholics in the South who had known slavery and segregation as a way of life, looked at those systemic issues as natural.”

As Church leaders started to take a stronger stance in rejecting segregation, Catholics were called by their faith to “turn away from hate and divisiveness,” he said, and the Church allowed many Catholics to “come together and begin the process of healing.”

In Marchand’s view, race relations within the Church have significantly improved since King’s day.

“In culturally diverse parishes across the country social interactions in various ministries have provided opportunities for all Catholics to learn and understand each other better,” he said. “Divisions remain in the Church to this day. We still have what are considered ‘White parishes’ and ‘Black parishes’ but the differences tend to be more about worship style and comfort rather than exclusion and hate.”

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded in Mobile, Ala. in 1909 by four Josephite priests and three Catholic laymen to serve African-Americans and other racial minorities. Its founders were concerned the Catholic Church would lose black Catholics to fraternal and secular organizations, at a time when racism in some parts of the South sometimes curtailed participation in parish life and Catholic associations.

In their opposition to segregation, the Knights of Peter Claver worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. One of its leading officers, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud, worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to help overturn segregation laws. The order’s New Orleans headquarters hosted early meetings that led to the launch of the civil rights movement.

The order has six divisions, including the Ladies of Peter Claver and two separate junior divisions for young men and young women.

A Knights of Peter Claver spokesman told CNA that many local units of the organization would hold their own commemorations of King.