Holy Cross KPC named Council of the Year
By Peggy Moraczewski
The Knights of Peter Claver (KPC) Council #284 at Holy Cross Parish in Austin was recently honored as the National Council of the Year at the National Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., 99th annual convention. The July convention was held in Mobile, Ala., where the organization was founded more than a century ago.
Derek J. Phillips, Grand Knight, of Council #284, explained, “KPC is an organization the whole family can join. There is a Ladies Auxiliary and a Juniors group for ages 7-18. Children may join after they have received their First Communion.” KPC is a Phillips family tradition, which began with Derek’s father while raising his family in Houston.
Gene A. Phillips Sr. served as the 15th Supreme Knight of the KPC and Derek’s brother, Gene A. Phillips Jr. is the current President of the Texas State Conference. His mother, Elsa R. Phillips, served as past National Junior Daughter Counselor and his sister-in-law, Marlexa A. Phillips, participates in the Ladies Auxiliary. Following First Communion next spring, Derek’s 8-year-old nephew will likely follow in the footsteps of his family and become a junior member of the KPC.
Saint Peter Claver (1580-1654) was a Spanish Jesuit priest who worked in Cartegena, Colombia, for 33 years to help abolish slave trading. While providing spiritual nourishment to African slaves and serving the sick and dying, he converted hundreds of thousands to Christianity. He is the patron saint of slaves.
The Knights of Peter Claver was founded in 1909 by priests from the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart, along with interested laymen. Originally located in Alabama, the National Headquarters is now in New Orleans, La., and represents nearly 20,000 members whose primary goal is to serve God and his church.
KPC Council #284 at Holy Cross Parish in Austin was chartered in 1986, and this active council has grown to “over 40 Knights, 60 plus Ladies, and 30 plus Juniors in the Unit,” Derek Phillips said. He serves as the Grand Knight and is responsible for the entire unit. Each group may have independent activities, but they strive to work as a unit.
“The main focus of our council is to serve our pastor, church and community,” he said. This year Council #284 accomplished this goal through activities such as a fan drive; donations benefited the Conley-Guerrero Senior Citizen Center and Blackland Neighborhood Center. They also made a financial donation and assisted with Camp Cell-A-Bration, a week-long camp for children ages 6 to 14 affected with sickle cell disease.
Derek Phillips attended St. Thomas High School in Houston, graduated from the University of Texas and is a CPA currently employed as a Financial Controller at Dell, Inc. He has been a member of the KPC for more than 25 years. Surrounded by family and fellow Knights, he received his third consecutive award as the National Grand Knight of the Year at the National Knights of Peter Claver, Inc., 99th annual convention this past summer.
“I try to live the life that would make St. Peter Claver proud. This would be through supporting our local priest, community involvement, and promoting civic improvements and social justice. This was instilled early in my life along with the motto from St. Thomas High of teaching me goodness, discipline and knowledge,” he said.
For more information about the Knights of Peter Claver organization, visit www.kofpc.org.