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2010 Campus Courts Retreat

Texas Hosts First Campus Court Retreat

by Terrie Vacek, Texas Public Relations Chair

There are fourteen (14) Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) Campus Courts nationally; Baylor University, Waco, Texas; Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; George Washington University, Washington, DC; Incarnate Word University, San Antonio, Texas; Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana; StonehillCollege, Easton, MA; Saint Gregory’s University, Shawnee, Oklahoma; Saint Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; Saint Thomas University, Houston, Texas; Stephen F. Austin, Nacogdoches, Texas; University of Maryland/College Park, College Park, Maryland; University of Texas, Austin, Texas; University of North Texas/Texas Women’s University, Denton, Texas. Campus Courts can serve as a valuable bridge from our Junior Courts to our Senior Courts.

Six Texas Universities were in attendance at the First Campus Court Retreat February 5th through the 7th in San Antonio, TX: Baylor, Saint Mary’s, Incarnate Word, Stephen F. Austin, University of Texas, and Texas Women/University of North Texas. These young ladies displayed strong spiritual grounding, enthusiasm, dignity and courage as they discussed the many obstacles they overcome in campus life.

Sheila Martinka, CDA State Regent, Houston, TX, presented the history of CDA through generations and traditions, officer training, and held open forum discussion sessions. Martinka compiled a long list of ideas and specific needs of campus courts to enable their continued success. Retreatants engaged in quality communication during the Circle of Love and M.O.M. project presentations.

Peggy Rosales, CDA Second Vice State Regent, Austin, TX, held a training session on responsibilities and procedures of the Treasurer and Financial Secretary. Barbara Britton, Campus Court State Chair, San Antonio was the Retreat Hostess providing prayer services and organizing games for the evening mixers.

Campus Court members shared their journey to CDA. Surprisingly, no one was a former JCDA member. Some girls were there at the suggestion of trusted friends, some by example of the love/spirituality they saw reflected in other court members or members of their chapel choir, others were positively influenced by childhood memories of individuals in KC or CDA, one received a CDA State Scholarship, and many of them joined as a result of the Student Activity Fair or campus KC members.

The retreat theme was "Living a Life of Service" presented by Olga Samaniego, Spiritual Enhancement State Chair, El Paso, TX. Using a video clip from The Lion King, Samaniego emphasized how powerful our life and future becomes when we, like Simba, discover who we are and fully understand that our Father will always be with us. "We are daughters of the King of Kings created for a specific purpose" John 1:12-13. Samaniego said, "What undergirds activity in CDA is the grounding of our service in spirituality - our relationship with Christ. Everything God gives is valuable when poured out in service for God; therefore, what God calls us to He will equip us to do. CDA is not a fund raising organization; we raise money to obtain funds to do the service to which God calls us." Without Jesus, we can do nothing and can therefore give only what He gives us.

Retreatants had breakout discussions, reflection, song and prayer prior an open sharing of the many ways in which spirituality has moved them in specific service events. The open discussion on service projects enabled the various courts to obtain a wider understanding of how their service may grow in love despite time limits of class work and employment obligations.

Some shared service projects included sponsoring a child in need, cookies for Mass, Read Across America, making blankets for Project Linus, seasonal decorating of the campus church, Haiti donations, game baskets for immigrant children, sponsor Masses, Habitat for Humanity donations and build participation, dancing at nursing homes, relay for life, can food drives, work at the animal shelter, clean the campus church, make and deliver greeting cards for children with cancer, 24 hour Pray-A-Thon, 40 Days for Life, clean and cook at the Student Catholic Centers.

With a commitment to active service, these young women have answered the invitation to embrace the principles of faith by working through love in the promotion of justice, equality, and the advancement of human rights and dignity for all. Samaniego provided specific tolls in defining the dual purpose of spirituality and service then closing with a statement by Mother Teresa; “Joy is prayer, joy is strength. Joy is love; joy is the net of love by which you can catch souls”.

Leadership also attending were Eileen Bentsen, Waco, Baylor Campus Advisor; Melodie Brunt, Texarkana, District Deputy #6; Sirene Brunel, Austin, District Deputy #7; Irene Quesnot, San Antonio, St. Mary’s Campus Advisor; Andrea Cyterski, San Antonio, Incarnate Word Campus Advisor; Terrie Vacek, Willis, TX State Public Relations Chair.

Reverend Kip Standard, San Antonio, Campus Chaplain, St. Mary’s University was the celebrant for the Retreat Mass. His message of Grace, Hope, Mercy and Love were in direct correlation to the readings and the message of the retreat. Participants were affirmed with a renewal of their Baptism followed by an open forum of petitions for the Prayers of the Faithful. Several members of the Saint Mary’s Chapel Choir served as music ministers.

The sisterhood of CDA will provide these wonderful young ladies of faith with friendship and support as they deepen their faith serving under the motto of "Unity & Charity" while facing the many challenges ahead of them. We congratulate our campus court members and ask that their territory be enlarged as they step into the ministry of service. Martinka in her final comment in review of the retreat stated, "These girls now know that they do not stand alone. Other campus events tend to evaluate success by strength and numbers but they received the clear message and know that a daughter of Christ accepting the opportunity to use their God given gifts and talents comes with no expectations or judgments. Their communion with Christ becomes their fulfillment".

Texas statistics: 233 CDA Courts including 7 Campus Courts; 16,033 members including 137 campus court members; Texas has 58 Districts; 65 JCDA courts with 749 members Totals 291 Courts & 16,782 members). For more information about the Catholic Daughters of the Americas please view the national site at or National Co-Director, Duchess Collins at