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54th Biennial National 2012 Convention

by Terrie Vacek

The 54th Biennial National Convention of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) is being held July 17-22, 2012, Omaha Hilton and the CenturyLink Convention Center, Omaha, Nebraska. The convention theme "With God All Things Are Possible" Matthew 19:26, was also the theme of the 2010-2012 term selected by National Regent Joanne Tomassi.

Pre-convention tours of the historic Omaha area began on Sunday; Cruises on the Missouri River, Father Flanagan’s Boystown, Holy Family Shrine, Mahoney State Park, Strategic Air Command Museum, Henry Doorly Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Joslyn Art Museum, Durham Pacific Railroad Depot-Museum. Omaha is a very clean town well known for it’s diversity of culture and dining experiences. The Fertile Ground Mural and the Missouri River can be seen from the Convention Center.

Nebraska Host Court members were on the scene the moment CDA members arrived in Omaha with warm greetings, providing assistance and escorting members to the Hotel shuttle. National and Convention Committee members provided friendly hospitality and an efficient registration where Texas delegates, alternates, clergy and guests came in such large numbers that TEXAS had its own registration table for a total opening day registration of 106. Texas State Treasurer Melodie Brunt was a ‘First Timer’ to a national convention.

Catholic Daughters across the nation packed rosaries for the Convention’s Charitable Project that will provide rosaries to patients in nursing homes throughout Nebraska.

Representatives from CDA National presented six incredible pre-convention seminars Tuesday afternoon repeating each session on Wednesday morning; First Time Attendees, Leadership, Focus on Local Courts, Legislation, Spirituality and Membership. National Spiritual Enhancement Chairman Olga Samaniego and National Chaplain Reverend Edward Lamp had a standing room only crowd for the Spirituality Workshops. Rev. Lamp reminded attendees that we "must have an intimate relationship with God where one is so comfortable that they can rest in God, work, laugh, cry and talk with God even while clipping your fingernails in His presence! Understand that a spiritual person is possibly the only Gospel they will read". Olga emphasized that "we are not an organization of fundraisers, we do fundraising to do the work that God has called us to do."

The Exhibit Room was packed with merchandise; clothing, jewelry, rosaries and literature providing attendees the opportunity to share and wear CDA when they returned to their local courts. Delegates were in line to purchase the collectors convention pin. Delegates registered for the annual charitable ‘Walk for Love’ where funds are designated to the various National Projects. Many tried their luck purchasing tickets for Lucky Bucks, Baskets, and the All American Raffle!

Highlights of the Past National Directors Dinner were the various expressions of sincere gratitude to the many women and clergy that led CDA in service and spirituality. Joan McKenna served as mistress of ceremonies. Gifts of appreciation were presented to National Regent Joanne Tomassi.

Hundreds of CDA members from across the nation and territorial courts gathered with eighteen members of the clergy for an ‘Adoration and Benediction’ service opening the convention and empowering the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. In his greeting to the delegation, Reverend Lamp asked delegates to remember that each Catholic Daughter here is a ‘guest’ one to another saying, "…welcome each catholic daughter as if she were Jesus and treat her like you would Christ… be Christ for others".

Following the posting of Colors/United States Flag and the National CDA banner, Reverend James Sichko led the delegation in the National Anthem. Opening prayer was led by Nebraska State Chaplain Reverend Paul Vasquez followed by greetings by Fr. ‘Bubbles’ Tony Espinoza.

With a voting strength of 580, National Regent Joanne Tomassi called the convention to order by the drop of her gavel saying, "Have an open mind and be respectful to new ideas and old traditions as you represent those members of your home court unable to be here."

Keynote speaker Reverend James Sichko, better known as Fr. ‘Jim’ brought laughter and reverence to the convention floor. Following his stories about his mother, his flight to the convention, and his invitation to join CDA with a local waitress, his deep love for God and mankind were reflected throughout his talk. He said that "we are ambassadors, stewards of God’s mercy. Everything that we are and have belongs to God and is a gift to us."

Consider this, Be …;

  • 1. Internal Anchor- Be rooted in God’s grace, love, and faith.
  • 2. Attitude of Gratitude- Jesus Christ always gave thanks to God… just say ‘thank you’ no matter what the situation is. Live simple ‘Random Acts of Kindness’.
  • 3. Keeper of the Vision- …Be loyal to the Church. Vision is always on the Eucharist for without it we are just like anyone else.
  • 4. Communicate the Vision- Be like Christ who told real relative stories, share, be excited, be willing to do difficult things. It’s about ‘we’, it’s not about the ‘I’ and our comfort zone. We must come forward when called no matter what.
  • 5. Small Things Matter- Just remember the outcome when Jesus embraced Zacchaeus.
  • 6. Don’t Depend on the Approval of Others- Be a friend to everyone, be a Catholic Daughter and rejoice in it, love it.
  • Following my arrival in Omaha, I called my mother as I always do to let her know I arrived safely. She said to me, "Jimmy, as you speak, don’t you forget that I am with you through this." That is what God says to each of us. God used Jesus Christ to redeem and heal the world. He calls us, loves us and is with us in true love. Fr. Jim thanked the special women of Orange, Texas who helped to raise him saying, "I am so blessed, grateful, and I say thank you, and ask that while you listen to my closing song "Only In God", you allow it to be God’s gift to you."

    The following reports were presented: National Convention, Credentials, Standing Rules, Convention Program, and Parliamentary Procedures.



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    An Award of Appreciation was presented to Theresa Duran for her selfless service and designing the convention pin.




    The nominating committee presented Shirley Seyfried for the position of National Regent Elect, Helene Shepard for First Vice National Regent, Olga Samaniego of Texas for Second Vice National Regent and Sherry Nilles for National Secretary/Treasurer. Letty Calvetti was nominated from the floor for First Vice State Regent. The nominating committee presented the following for National Director: Emily Guilherme, Arline Rich, and Sheila Storey. Vickie Feist, Connie Pagan, Mary Ann Kizer, Margy Oller, Joyce Ann Fleming and Margaret Bingham were nominated from the floor. By acclamation with nine nominees for nine National Director positions, they were voted upon and elected. National Regent Elect Anne Nelson will automatically become the 2012-2014 National Regent. By acclamation with no nomination from the floor; Shirley Seyfried, for National Regent Elect; Olga Samaniego, for Second Vice National

    Regent; and Sherry Nilles, for National Secretary/Treasurer were voted upon and elected.

    Sixteen (16) delegates were nominated from the floor to serve on the 2014 Nomination Committee including Eve Trevino from Texas.

    Lucky Bucks brought in $1,584.00 with half of the funds going to National and the remainder being split by three attendees. One Texas delegate will be coming back with $264.00!

    Fr. Frank Boss, Ohio State Chaplain led the prayer before the meeting was called to Recess.


    Texas delegates and clergy gathered for a group photo letting everyone know that Texas is in the house by singing "The Eyes of Texas" just before congratulating Olga Samaniego as the 2012-2014 Second Vice National Regent!

    Campaign night offered the opportunity for candidates for First Vice National Regent, National Director and Nominating Committee to meet and greet delegates with an attempt to earn their vote.




    The 1903 Tea Reception was hosted by Chairman Helene Shepard and Regent Tomassi. Helene stated that in her attempts to meet their goals enabling the National Board to make the necessary repairs to our historical national office, she would take her “dog and pony show to the road with my 1903 clothing, pictures, and my mouth, I went to promote the 1903 Society”. She asked that an emphasis be placed on the support of this networking that has already begun to preserve our historical national office.