By The Tablet Staff
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Bishop Robert Brennan celebrated a Mass in honor of the Feast Day of St. Peter Claver on Sept. 9 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Bishop Brennan stressed the importance of treating each other with human dignity and used St. Peter Claver as a worthy example of that.
“Isn’t that what set Peter Claver apart in his own time?” Bishop Brennan asked. “A time of tremendous shame, during that slave trade when people — Christians — were treating fellow human beings like commodities, not like people? It wasn’t just the acts of kindness that he performed, but he saw human people. He saw dignity.
“What is God asking us but to see that human dignity in one another?” Bishop Brennan continued. “And so racism, violence, these are pro-life issues that get to the heart of human dignity.”
The Mass was organized by the Vicariate Office of Black Catholic Concerns. Among the attendees were the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, who processed in with Bishop Brennan. Music was provided by the Choir of St. Martin De Porres parish under the direction of co-directors Ms. Joan Marie Delahunt and Mr. Joseph P. Murray.
St. Peter Claver Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant was founded by Msgr. Bernard Quinn in 1921. It was the first parish in the diocese established for black Catholics.
Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit who travel to the New World in 1610. He was ordained in 1615 after settling in Cartagena, Colombia, which was a center of the slave trade. Father Claver ministered to many of the 10,000 slaves that were brought to Cartagena every year, and baptized an estimated 300,000 people in his lifetime. He died in 1654 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888.
Father Alonzo Cox, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish and coordinator for the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns for the diocese, closed the Mass by “thanking the Lord for the gift of our faith, but most especially that, through the intercession of St. Peter Claver, all of us will be able to live in peace and harmony.”