Catholic Daughters court celebrates 70th anniversary

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They are often behind the scenes but that doesn’t mean the nearly 60 women who make up the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court Our Lady of Belen No. 1359 aren’t a driving force in the parish.

As the second largest missionary organization in the church, right behind the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters embrace the principle of faith in the promotion of justice, equality and the advancement of human rights and human dignity for all.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: The Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court of Our Lady of Belen No. 1359 celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Members hold the original charter for the chapter, which features the names of all the charter members, as well as the plaque engraved with the name of every regent since 1944. Pictured, from left, are Vice Regent Hilda Hidalgo, Mary Jo Moya, Regent Rosie Chavez, Filomena Baca and Virgie Chavez.

And this year marks the 70th anniversary of the local court and all its good works in the community.

To celebrate the anniversary, there will be a Mass at 10 a.m., Sunday, March 30, followed by a reception at the new parish center for members and one guest of their choice.

Members are asked to wear white for the occasion. During the celebration, the chapter’s remaining charter member, Sabie Romero, will be honored, as well as the 14 court members who have given more than 50 years of dedication to the organization. Also honored during the ceremony will be Lily Tabet, the oldest member of the court, who turned 101 on March 8 and has been a member for 69 years.

The Mass celebration will have the Knights of Columbus, 4th degree members present, as well as Catholic Daughters of the Americas’ state officers.

“We help the parish and our community,” said member Filomena Baca. “Together, we help a lot worldwide.”

The court supports many national charities, such as the American Red Cross and St. Jude’s Research Hospital, but its giving power is also felt close to home.

Local and state organizations it supports include St. Vincent de Paul, El Ranchito de los NiƱos, Our Lady of Belen Memorial Gardens, Little Sisters of the Poor and Valencia County Shelter Services for victims of domestic violence.

While there’s a lot of work done, Mary Jo Moya said her sisters in Christ are a source of inspiration and motivation.

“With all of us, you always have enough energy to help the church,” Moya said. “They really give you the energy and desire to support the parish.”

Regent Rosie Chavez said the court lives the CDA motto, “Unity and Charity.”

“We find a way to treat everybody in the community in a special way, to show them they are important to the court,” Chavez said.

As the largest court in the state, with 129 members, Vice Regent Hilda Hidalgo said the court is very active and always looking for new members.

Women in good standing with the Catholic Church, at least 18 years old and registered in Our Lady of Belen parish are eligible for membership.

“Being in a small town, I think it makes it easier for us to be better known,” Baca said.

Members of the court keep each other in prayer, said Chavez, relying on each other for support in their spiritual journey.

“We are here to serve. We know who needs a prayer,” she said. “And our senior ladies, who can’t make it to the meetings at night, they are our prayer angels. This is a wonderful group of women.”

The Catholic Daughters was founded in 1903 by the Knights of Columbus, in Utica, N.Y., and is the largest national organization of Catholic women in the world. There are courts in 42 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Virgin Islands, Guam and Saipan.

In 1925, the Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas was formed. The JCDA is a national youth program for girls ages 6 through 18.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.