The Beginning Utica, New York 1903
The Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) was founded in Utica, New York in 1903 by John E. Carberry and several other Knights of Columbus as a charitable, benevolent and patriotic sorority for Catholic ladies. It was originally called the National order of Daughters of Isabella," and is dedicated to the principles of "Unity and Charity," the order's motto. They were originally called the national order of the Daughters of Isabella, and Carberry served as the first Supreme Regent. The Knights established our two standards of Unity and Charity. CDA had 90 courts by 1908, and had grown from a membership of less than 100 to more than 10,000. The membership encompassed 69 cities in 18 different states. In March of 1913, the Daughters of Isabella purchased a building in Utica belonging to the Knights of Columbus for use as its official headquarters.
Supporting the World War I Effort
The Daughters became very involved in overseas duty during World War I. They acted as nurses, did clerical work, conducted sewing and knitting classes for the Red Cross, and staged parties to entertain the servicemen. They also helped the Knights of Columbus raise $3 million for recreational activities for the enlisted men. When the war ended, Supreme Regent Genevieve Walsh was named to the newly formed national Catholic War Council. The CDA was a part of the restoration of the University of Louvain's ravaged library in Belgium. It was also during this time that a youth society called "War Service Plan for Girls" was formed. This group later evolved into the Junior Catholic Daughters.
Growth and Change
At a biennial convention in 1921, the order changed its name from the Daughters of Isabella to the Catholic Daughters of America (CDA). In 1925 the first court outside of the United States was established in Cuba . It was during this time that the Knights of Columbus severed its ties with CDA, allowing it to become an independent organization. In 1926, the national headquarters moved from Utica to its current location at 10 West 71 Street in New York City . By 1928, the membership of the CDA had swelled to 170,000 members in courts that spanned 45 states, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Canada.
"Something Beautiful for God"
Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta , spoke to an audience of Catholic Daughters in October of 1972 in Washington , D.C. to mark National Catholic Daughters Day. She asked the CDA members to continue to "give to our brothers and sisters throughout the world as if once more Jesus had come into the world cold, hungry, and alone." Through annual donations to the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa's challenge and that of Bishop Sheen are being met, as we become "Catholic Daughters of the world."
Information obtained from the National CDA Site