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St. Peter Claver Church (1892)
On this date, we celebrate the founding of Saint Peter Claver Catholic Church in 1892. For over 100 years it has served a large percentage of the Black community in St. Paul, MN.
Initiated by Archbishop John Ireland, an active promoter of equal rights, the church began in a rented space on Market Street across from downtown Rice Park in 1888. In 1892, one of the founding members, Colonel Samuel Hardy, helped organize Saint Peter Claver Church while becoming the first president of the Negro Catholic Conference. During that time, the Church moved to the corner of Aurora and Farrington and established the “Toussaint L’Ouverture Society,” a literary study group.
In 1950, Saint Peter Claver School (SPCC) opened. During the 1960s, SPCC grew within the community by creating a youth drop-in center called “The Island.” This was a time of profound change in the life of both the Catholic Church and African Americans. Nationwide changes continue to be worked out. Throughout the 1960s, many projects and programs came and went. In 1978, the church took back ownership of the school, and an Urban Catholic school was added that fall.
The church had many memorable events in the latter half of the twentieth century, including annual picnics, community forums, and discussion groups. Dr. Alvin Poussaint hosted one of them in 1988. Though the school closed in 1989, with strong community perseverance, the church reopened its school in 2001, and membership in both organizations has been growing in quality and quantity. The twenty-first century looks bright and promising for Saint Peter Claver Church and School.