Saint Peter Claver
Last winter, my nephew and godson Trevor moved from his parents' home in Wadsworth, Ohio to Colorado. His company gave him an offer he could not refuse. I admire my nephew for seizing the opportunity, even if it meant going west of the Mississippi. He had it pretty good at home with his parents. Also, Trevor is pretty close to his mom, my sister. Luckily, they do Facetime on their mobile devices and stay in touch. So far, everything is going well. Now our Saint of the day, Saint Peter Claver, left his homeland in Spain as a Jesuit missionary at age 29. He never saw his homeland again - and this was back in the 17th century!
When Saint Peter Claver took his final vows, he committed his life to serving those enforced into slavery. For 38 years, he would meet the slave ships at Cartagena, which is now Columbia. He would go down into the holds where the slaves were trapped, and brought them medicine, bandages, and fresh fruit. He washed them and made beds for them. He was also to get attorneys to plead their cases. If a slave was condemned to death, Saint Peter Claver would stay at their side until the end. He tried to protect young African women from their slave owners, too. Plus, he fought to uphold laws that allowed the slaves to marry. Saint Peter Claver would also go inland to the mines and the coffee and cotton plantations to witness marriages, baptize babies, and hear their confessions. He also held missions and he liked to refer to himself as the “slave of slaves.”
At the age of 70, Saint Peter Claver contracted the plague. With his brother Jesuits caring for plague victims, there were times when no one was there to tend to Saint Peter Claver. When word got out that he was dying, people of all races came to catch a glimpse to this holy man. Saint Peter Claver’s choice to leave home, and his determination to serve forever the most abused and rejected, is quite heroic. Maybe God is calling us to move out of our comfort zone and do something for others. May God strengthen our determination to always serve those in need, most especially those who suffer rejection and have no support. God bless and stay safe!
Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene