The Pastors at St. Peter’s

The Pastors at St. Peter’s

“It is only upon the firm foundation stone of faith that true character can be formed.  The current parishioners at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church have a blessed and firm arch carrying them into the next generation.  In Christ Our Lord, the cycle of life goes on.”

St. Peter Claver Church of Ridge was not in existence when the black catholics attended Mass at various churches in the county,  Colored catholics attended Mass at St. Michael of Ridge, because they lived in the vicinity.  From St. Michaels residence, the Jesuits took care of St. Michael’s, St. James, St. Inigoes and St. Peter Claver.
Priest who served at St. Peter Claver were:

Fr. William J. Tynan, S.J. (Superior) [1902-1903]
Fr. J. B. Matthews, S.J. (Superior) [1904-1905]
Fr. Maurice Prendergast,S.J. [1905-1906]
Fr. Timothy O’Leary, S.J. [1906-1910]
Fr. Abraham J. Emerick, S.J. [1910-1920]
Fr. John J. McCloskey, S.J. [1920-1922]
Fr. Herbert J. Parker, S.J. [1922-1923]
Fr. John LaFarge, S.J. [1923-1924]
Fr. Thomas Miley, S.J. [1924-1926]
Fr. Aloysius M. Thibbits, S.J. [1926-1927]
Fr. John J. Scanion, S.J. [1927-1930]
Fr. Horace B. McKenna, S.J.(Superior) [1930-1931]
Fr. Charles A. Schnorr, S.J. [1931-1953]
Fr. Paul J. Rock, S.J. (Pastor) [1953-1954]
Fr. Lawrence V. Keegan, S.J. [1954-1963]
Fr. Robert O. McMain [1961-1962]
Fr. Anthony R. Griffin [1963-1964]
Fr. Christopher C. Twohig [1964-1966]
Fr. Charles D. Gorman [1966-1972]
Fr. Paul Gozaloff (Administrator) [1972-1977]
Fr. Francis Walsh, (Pastor) [1972-1972]
Fr. Charles McCann, (Pastor) [1977-1986]
Fr. Michael McMellone (Pastor) [1986-1991]
Fr. Patrick Smith, (Pastor) [1991-1994]
Fr. Moore [1994-1997]
Fr. Damian Shadwell, (Pastor) [1997-2008]
Current Pastor – Fr. Scott Wood [2008-Present]

Father James Brent Matthews was native of Charles County who thoroughly understood the economy of the Negro and was a faithful friend to the colored people.  In 1918, Father Emerick built the second church at St. Peter Claver, a building of beautiful interior, seating 300 persons, constructed of wood.  In addition, he laid out St Peter’s Cemetery and built its wayside crucifix.

Father Aloysius M. Thibbitts, S.J. came to St. Peter Claver in 1927. He was a clear and powerful preacher, a thunderous singer, a magnificent ceremonialist if not a liturgist.  He hunted the sick and the sinner, but also filled the church three times weekly for evening devotions with people who, in many cases walked two or three miles one way.

Fr. John LaFarge

Fr. John LaFarge took a most active part in the founding of Cardinal Gibbons Institute. Fr. LaFarge achieved remarkable financial and economic support for his parishioners.

In 1931, Horace McKenna had been designated pastor of the church of St. Peter Claver, the only black Jesuit parish, but his place of residence was at St. Michael’s Jesuit community where he shared quarters with other Jesuits who were ministering at various nearby parishes.  “We had a pastor that stayed with us for twenty years, that was Haorace B. McKenna.  He is really like a father to us.  And he used to teach us bible class.  He taught us all our religion, and he used to come from our school and go over across the street to a high school, which was Cardinal Gibbons.  And each time I would see him coming and I was out for recess I would go and run and get his books and carry them for him….”  Ida D. Barnes Biscoe

Fr. Paul J. Rock

“…And then Fr. Rock came and that’s when things picked up. He was actually very interested in the athletic program as well as the educational program.”  Mother Mary Anselm Bently, O.S.P.  Fr. Rock was the last Jesuit Priest at St. Peter Claver.

Fr. Christopher Twohig

Fr. Christopher Twohig oversaw the closing of Cardinal Gibbons High School in June 1967.  Later that ear, the last two Oblate Sisters withdrew from the parish.  Fr. Twohig helped to establish the grade school building become the location for Ridge Day Care Center.

Fr. Frances Walsh

Decision was made for major renovations to the first floor of the grade school to become the new parish hall. Fr. Frances Walsh invites Archbishop Hickey to dedicate the new hall in the memory of Fr. McKenna. Fr. Walsh also helped to establish a Gospel Choir in October 1977.

Fr. Patrick Smith

Fr. Patrick Smith from Washington, D.C. was the first black pastor at St. Peters.  The Children’s Gospel Choir was formed to sing at his going-away celebration in 1997.

Fr. Damian Shadwell

Fr. Damian Shadwell came to St. Peters as an associate pastor.  He loved being a priest at St. Peter Claver parish.  Like Fr. Mckenna, Fr. Shadwell’s work at St. Inigoes became increasingly important to him each day that passed because he was steadily more aware that the pastoral ministry was the ideal vocation for him.  Fr. Shadwell was called “The Preacher Teacher”.