On January 14, 1931, a family of eight African-Americans met in the basement of Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair to begin weekly instruction in the Catholic faith. With the help and guidance of Rev. Cornelius Ahern, that smal1 group of converts grew, and the St. Peter Claver Mission was established. The Mission Center was a house, 51 Elm Street, in Montclair.
During the next several years, the fledg1ing community continued to expand as it prayed and worked for a miracle: to build a church. That dream was realized on November 5, 1939, when the cornerstone was laid for St. Peter Claver Church. The formal dedication ceremony, presided over by Archbishop Thomas Walsh and Father Ahern, was attended by over 300 parishioners.
On December 1, 1973, after 43 years as a Mission, St. Peter Claver Church was officially designated as a self-sustaining parish, with Rev. Charles McTague as the first pastor.
Over the years, St. Peter Claver Church has grown in membership and diversity, reaching out to welcome a11. During the 1970s, Koreans from some twenty Communities attended weekly Mass and a social hour. Since 1972, St. Peter Claver has been the parish home for a Haitian community, which celebrates weekly Mass in Creole and participates in a11 aspects of our parish life.
St. Peter Claver is also home to a Latino Ministry, since March 2002, offering weekly Mass in Spanish. This active and growing community has also become an integral part of the St. Peter Claver family. Our parish has evolved into a unique blend of diverse cultures united by our Catholic faith and Christian love.
On May 5,1987, a Priest's Residence/Office/Parish Center was dedicated as a symbol of the present generation's determination to preserve our traditions and pass on the gift of our faith. Surely, "the Hand of God is on this work."