Knights of Peter Claver Junior division’s convention in Kansas City

Members of the national Junior Leadership team of the Knights of Peter Claver gathered with James Ellis, Supreme Knight, and other Knights and Ladies at Morning Glory Cafe to serve breakfast to the homeless in the downtown area June 6. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — More than 700 youths, ages 7 – 18, from all over the country, met here for the 21st Knights of Peter Claver Junior Division convention, July 6 – 9 at the Sheraton – Crown Center Hotel.

The Knights of Peter Claver was founded in 1909 in Mobile, Ala., by four Josephite priests and three laymen to give African-American men opportunities for membership in a fraternal organization. The purpose is to render service to God and His Holy Church, render aid and assistance to the sick and disabled, and promote social and intellectual association among its members.

The Order’s name honors St. Peter Claver, a 17th century Spanish Jesuit who ministered to African slaves en route to the Americas.

The Order is governed by a Board of Directors and led by the Supreme Knight and Supreme Lady, KPCLA, and operated under the direction of the Executive Director and his staff.

Juniors are organized like the Senior Division — there is a Junior Supreme Knight, Junior Supreme Lady, along with Junior District or State Presidents and Officers. There are 123 Junior Knights Councils and 208 Junior Daughters Courts in the U.S. Interested youth must have made their First Communion.

The convention’s theme was “Juniors United Now in One Relationship, Service.”

Early on July 6, Junior Supreme Knight, Carrington Guillory, from Lake Charles, La., Junior Supreme Lady, Callia Cox, from New Orleans, Racquelle Barnett, Central States Division, Junior Daughter President, from Kansas City, Kan., Junior Board members, National Supreme Knight James Ellis and several officers volunteered serving breakfast at Morning Glory Cafe on the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception campus. The homeless and working poor who gather at Morning Glory Cafe for a hot breakfast enjoyed the young people and their compassionate friendliness and sincerity.

As part of their leadership requirements, Callia and Carrington have been involved in researching, coordinating, and participating in national service projects. Callia’s was “Morning Glory Ministries.”

Carrington, Callia, and Raquelle talked about the convention beginning later that morning. The Junior divisions had planned the convention themselves. The Order’s National Office’s executive director, Grant Jones, said the planning and committee building began shortly after the close of the previous convention in 2015. Carrington said many ideas were proposed and during two years of meetings and teleconferences, they came together.

Callia said organizing the convention was challenging, but a great experience. Carrington added that many of the organizers had great ideas, and for the convention to be a meaningful experience for all, the ideas had to be coordinated for different age groups. Jones agreed, saying that the young people attending were ages 7 to 18, activities were grouped by age.

Racquelle said her role in the convention planning in part involved “making kids from all over the country feel welcome. I want to show them all the things to do in Crown Center and downtown. There’s also Union Station, and the streetcar that goes to the City Market.”

Dr. Christopher Pichon, Director General of the Knights of Peter Claver, assisted the Juniors in planning the convention. They were also aided by Katie Guidry-Johnson, National Counselor of Junior Daughters. The two served as liaisons to the Senior Division.

Accompanied by Knights and Ladies – national and district officers, directors and directresses, the children and teenagers spent the 4-day convention engaged in community service projects, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) project competitions, meetings, workshops, a spelling bee, debate competitions, talent shows for music and dance, poetry and speech, forums, elections, the usual banquet, dance or movie night and awards night, Mass, the Rosary, Scripture readings and of course, making new friends. There was also time for sightseeing nearby.

Central States Division Directress Lady Ramonda Doakes told The Key, “The Knights’ history and purpose is to render service to God and His Holy Church. Our patron, St. Peter Claver was canonized in 1888 and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves. St. Peter Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.  His determination to serve the most abused and rejected is stunningly heroic.”

She praised Carrington and Callia for their leadership. “The Knights of Peter Claver youth division through their programs continue this tradition of social justice. The Junior Supreme Knight, Carrington Guillory, and Junior Supreme Lady, Callia Cox, are true Servant Leaders. Their National Service Projects span the globe from Haiti to Kansas City. The Junior Division has shown an unwavering commitment to our Order’s goals and objectives.”

Carrington said Junior Knights membership has made him realize that there are more things in the world than just the community you live in. “People in different communities, different cities have different backgrounds and social situations. I’ve learned how to socialize with others, be respectful and conduct myself in an orderly fashion.”

He also realized he wanted to help the people in Haiti left homeless following the 2010 earthquake, and Hurricane Matthew’s landfall last year, leaving more damage, flooding and cholera outbreaks. Carrington’s ongoing national service project is “Project Build a House.”

He’s working thorough Catholic Charities USA to find resources, labor and materials to build concrete block houses. To date, the first house is about 66 percent complete. He hopes to build multiple houses.

Callia said she had learned much through the Junior Daughters. “The organization becomes part of you, and you look at your community and the larger world differently. You see them through the eyes of faith and service, community service.”

Her introduction to community service was in 2010, in Charleston, S.C., with her family. “My whole family got involved,” she said. “The experience made me passionate about community service.” Membership in the Junior Daughters also made her passionate about persistence. “Whatever you choose to do in life, you can’t slack off. Your choice is your responsibility. You can’t give up!”

Carrington agreed, saying, “Community service brings us together as one. The piano player at Morning Glory exemplifies the ministry. He plays every morning, without being paid. He just plays, a backdrop to the conversations. The clients appreciated our service.”

Callia said,  “Money helps, but money isn’t all. Service has to be meaningful. Interaction between people is priceless.”

Katie Guidry-Johnson said, “We’re really proud of our juniors and the work they’ve been doing!”

Junior Supreme Knight Carrington Guillory and Junior Supreme Lady Callia Cox present the gifts of bread and wine to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at the convention closing Mass, July 9. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

Closing ceremonies took place July 9, with a Solemn Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and Father Charles Rowe, Vicar General of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. They were assisted by Deacon Ken Greene of St. Monica Parish.

In his homily, the archbishop spoke of bringing all cares, worries and joys to Christ in prayer, and about Pope Benedict XVI’s reflections on what it means to be Catholic. Although important, the most important things aren’t doctrine, dogma, or living a moral or ethical life; those are fruits of our Catholic faith. “The essence of being a Catholic is an encounter with a person, the person of Jesus Christ. To know Jesus and to know his love for us is at the heart of everything we believe. Without that friendship, without that personal relationship with him, our doctrine and dogma won’t make any sense.”

He continued: When friends call on the phone, “they don’t have to identify themselves; we know their voice, how they say our names. That’s the kind of relationship Jesus had with his disciples and wants to have with us. He knows each of us by name and loves us. This great revelation of the Scriptures has been given to us, that we have a God who loves us. The reality … is that in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the precious sacrament, Christ comes to us again, to nourish us.”

Father Rowe extended greetings from Bishop James Johnston, Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who was out of town, and said how pleased the diocese was that Kansas City, Mo., was chosen as the convention site.

Callia presented a check for $2,500 to Nate Smith, Director of Morning Glory Ministries, to help in supplying food, bus passes and other necessities to the homeless and poor in the downtown area.


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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph