History of Jr Knights of Peter Claver
The organization was founded in 1909 by Josephite Father Conrad Friedrich Rebesher, a native of Kłodawa, Poland, who served as pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish. The seven charter members were Josephite priests: Father Conrad Friedrich Rebesher, Father Samuel Joseph Kelly, Father Joseph Peter Van Baast, and Father John Henry Dorsey, and laymen: Gilbert Faustina, Francis Xavier “Frank” Collins, and Francis “Frank” Trenier.
The Order is named after St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest from Spain who ministered to African slaves in Cartagena, Columbia, South America, in the 17th century. Peter Claver is said to have converted over 300,000 slaves to Catholicism. The organization’s model was based on other Catholic fraternal orders such as the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Peter Claver is a member of the worldwide International Alliance of Catholic Knights.
The Junior Knights were authorized on January 14, 1917, and was established as a Division of the Order effective October 1, 1935. Josephite Father Joseph Van Baast compiled the first constitution for the Junior Knights.