SR. PETER CLAVER FAHY PAPERS
Scope and Content Note
Papers of a Trinitarian nun (1899-2004) who founded and directed houses of prayer, established hospitality houses for women, and engaged in prison ministry after her retirement from teaching and social service work. She was a close friend of Dorothy Day, and played a major role in her involvement in the Lacouture retreat movement. Included are personal correspondence and biographical and subject files.
Related material is in the Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker Collection in this repository and in the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity Archives, Philadelphia, PA.
Gift of Sr. Peter Claver Fahy, 1979.
Sr. Peter Claver (Hannah Elizabeth) Fahy, MSBT, was born 17 July 1899 in Rome, Georgia, to Thomas and Sarah (Jonas) Fahy. Leaving home at the age of 18, she studied dance in New York City for one year and then entered Trinity College in Washington, D.C. Graduation was followed by a year with the Catholic Branch of the National Girl Scouts, during which she worked in an orphanage in the New York City area, and a year in the novitiate of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Deciding that she belonged with the poor, Sr. Fahy joined the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity in 1926.
During the next 40 years, Sr. Peter Claver undertook various assignments for her order in impoverished areas of the north and south, including teaching and charitable, missionary, and retreat work in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Jersey. Her efforts to counter the isolation of blacks from the church in Newark in the 1930s led to the establishment of storefront churches in black neighborhoods. Soon after Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933, Sr. Fahy became a close friend of Day's, introducing her to the rigorous retreat given by the disciples of Rev. Onesimus Lacouture, SJ.
While serving as a medical librarian for her order in the 1960s, Sr. Peter learned of the House of Prayer movement founded by Fr. Bernard Haring. She attended the movement's Michigan meeting in 1971 and talked up the idea of houses of prayer which would be accessible to the poor. Two sisters in attendance invited her to establish one in Erie, Pennsylvania, which she directed until 1975, when she returned to her home town of Rome, Georgia to begin a house of prayer there. She also helped found hospitality houses for women in both cities. Residing at the Trinitarian motherhouse in Philadelphia from 1979 until her death on 3 December 2004, Sr. Fahy remained active counseling prisoners well into her nineties.
Scope and Content
Series 1, Private Correspondence, 1963-1997, includes letters from Dorothy Day, Fr. John Hugo, and Francis Ballem, a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder.
Series 2, Biographical and Subject Files, 1964-1997, contains information about PCF and topics of interest to her in the last four decades of her life.