My husband, John, and I (pictured at right) tabled for Maryknoll at the Junior Division of the Knights of Peter Claver Conference, Gulf Coast Region, held in Jacksonville, Florida on March 5-7, 2010. The young men and women in attendance ranged from 7-18 while their chaperones were adults of various ages.
|The Supreme Knight and the Directoress of the Knights of Peter Claver were part of the entrance procession of the Mass|
The Knights of Peter Claver is an organization of Catholic men that was formed for African Americans in 1909 when other Catholic organizations did not allow African Americans as members. Besides the Knights, there is a Ladies Auxiliary, the Junior Knights, the Junior Daughters, the 4th Degree Knights, and the Ladies of Grace. Their 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 members.
Many of those in attendance, children and chaperones, took the time to stop at our table and ask about Maryknoll or take some of our literature. The inquirers ranged from those who knew a lot about Maryknoll to those who knew nothing about Maryknoll. John and I enjoyed educating the inquirers about Maryknoll while also learning more about them. The map we displayed showed the locations of Maryknoll missions around the globe, and sparked a lot of interest.
|There was a small choir. The young ladies in blue dresses also performed a beautiful liturgical dance that started the recessional procession.|
One woman from Georgia said the Catholic school where she substitute taught, had the Maryknoll program. The school received copies of the Maryknoll magazine each month, and had discussions of at least one of the articles in the classrooms.
The Supreme Knight, Gene A. Phillips, Sr., seemed very happy to have us in attendance, and sent people over to meet with us. The boys and girls were well-behaved and friendly, many smiling and greeting us as they passed our table. It seemed that the program they were a part of had been effective at helping them develop into confident young people.
|All the girls and women wore white dresses and head covers and all the boys and men wore white shirts, black suits and ties. During the Mass, the ladies sat together on one side of the hall and the men on the other.|
Bishop Victor Galeone of the Diocese of St. Augustine presided at the Saturday evening Mass for the conference attendees, assisted by Deacon Larry Hart, who is from both the St. Augustine Diocese and from Maryknoll. All liturgies and activities were held at the Marriott Hotel in Jacksonville.
A side benefit of the Maryknoll table was that other hotel guests noticed it and stopped by. One gentleman talked about having donated to Maryknoll monthly for decades and we thanked him for his generosity. One local woman was interested in the Maryknoll Affiliate group forming in Jacksonville. We took her name and information for follow-up.
John and I were blessed to have this opportunity to spend time with these special people, and to spread the word about the Maryknoll missions and how each of us can support Maryknoll. We recommend that other Maryknoll Affiliate groups consider being present at conferences like this one.