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From 1917 to 2012 ... He Saw Us Through It!

by Terrie Vacek

He said, "Come be My light."

When God called us to it, He saw us through it!

How fitting that the ninety-fifth anniversary of the Texas State Court is being celebrated with the theme, "Come be My Light." Like a lighthouse guiding the way, thousands of women sailed into unknown waters developing projects with successful results which have also proven to be instruments of opportunity. The light of Christ that was shining through these women was a guiding light of His Way and His Truth.

Women are known for launching ships, as it was with Helen of Troy whose face is said to have launched a thousand ships. On November 28, 1909, Austin, Texas, Maria Galante Court #115 launched thirty-four (34) women on an historic adventure of unity and charity. These Daughters of Isabella, sisters to the Knights of Columbus, chartered the first court in Texas. This initial band of thirty four "Daughters" sailed forward on a course destined to provide positive change in the Church, community and family.

One hundred and three years later in 2012, a sea of purple and gold continues to move through the Church with over 16,000 faith-filled Texas women still making waves of love with servant hearts to preserve the dignity of all mankind. The beacon lit by this initial Court served to inspire Texas' current two hundred and thirty (230) Catholic Daughters of the Americas Courts, and all others that will follow, with immeasurable service and love.

Our nation has changed drastically. In 1917, the cost of living doubled due to the war (WWI); it jumped to 9 cents for 4 lbs. of bread, 10 cents for a dozen eggs, and 4 cents for a gallon of gas. Ninety-five years later, Catholic Daughters pay over $2.00 for each loaf of bread we donate to the food pantry, we pay $2.29 for each dozen of eggs we cook in our soup kitchens, and $3.49 for each gallon of gas used driving across Texas in service to our Lord, church, and country.

In 1917, an entire community would come together and raise the barn for a neighbor in need. Today, Catholic Daughters make road trips clear across Texas, cross state lines, and even go into Mexico building Habitat for Humanity homes for total strangers. The spirit of charity has held strong in our Christian nation and in Texas. We are unified by love.

Also in 1917, the United States paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands. Recently, the Galveston/Houston Diocese paid $49 million for a new cathedral. The 1917 United States Congress declared war on Germany joining the allies in World War I. The war we face in our nation today has many facets taking a toll on every citizen and our Church. Storms of destruction, inflation, war, race, gender, and religious persecution are a part of our history and our success.

The National Order selected Houston, Texas as the site to institute the eighth state court in the nation. On January 25, 1917, Genevieve Walsh, Supreme National Regent 1915-1923, presided at the establishment of the Texas State Court with twelve courts. (A state must have a minimum of five courts before the formation of a state court)

Maria Galante #115, Austin Star of the Sea #228, Galveston
November 28, 1909 February 15, 1914
Saint Rita #182, Beaumont Our Lady of Victory # 234, Houston
October 13, 1912 April 19, 1914
Santa Maria #184, Marshall Corpus Christi #246, Corpus Christi
January 5, 1913 August 23, 1914
Our Lady of Guadalupe #206, Yoakum Saint Mary #249, Muenster
June 11, 1913 December 6, 1914
Louise #209, Fort Worth Mater Dolorosa #256, Scotland
June 22, 1913 April 6, 1915
Saint Anthony #214, San Antonio Our Lady of Perpetual Help #296, Windthorst
October 26, 1914 December 15, 1916

These pioneer women worked endless hours supporting our military efforts, filling pantry shelves, caring for the sick, educated children with a school book in one hand and a Bible in the other, and they spoke openly for life, family and women's rights. Today, our Catholic Daughters continue to fulfill the needs and accomplish the goals of the parish, community and our nation.

The National Order of the Daughters of Isabella congratulates the Lone Star State.

The National Order of the
Daughters of Isabella

Texas State Court

Hosted by Ct. Our Lady of Victory #234
K of C Hall & Rice Hotel

2012 State Officers proudly display the
Texas Senate Proclamation for
95 years of charitable service.

L-R, State Treasurer Melodie Brunt, Second Vice State Regent Eve Trevino, State Regent Carolyn Malik, First Vice State Regent Peggy Rosales, State Secretary Rosie Stockwell.

The Mother Court of Texas, Court Maria Galante #115 was the first Catholic Daughter court in Texas. The court's original name was Daughters of Isabella and was later changed to Court Maria Galante, named after a ship in the Christopher Columbus fleet. Their historic formation reflects the Texas tradition of independence. The first court could not afford a degree team to come from another state, so they put on their ceremony by memorizing the ritual under the leadership of Mr. Wm. McNamara, past District Deputy of the Knights of Columbus.

Texas 1st State Convention
National Order, Daughters of Isabella, May 1917, San Antonio

2nd 1919, Fort Worth 13th 1941, Austin
3rd 1921, Galveston, now CDA 14th 1943, Yoakum
4th 1923, Marshall 15th 1945, Beaumont
5th 1925, Austin 16th 1948, Galveston
6th 1927, Wichita Falls 17th 1950, Laredo
7th 1929, Corpus Christi 18th 1952, Port Arthur
8th 1931, & 10th 1935, Texarkana 19th 1954, Wichita Falls
9th 1933, Laredo 20th 1956, San Antonio
11th 1937, Houston 21st 1958, Houston
12th 1939, Fort Worth 22nd 1960, Austin, Texas 50th Anniversary

In 1921, the orders name was officially changed to Catholic Daughters of America, and changed to The Catholic Daughters of the Americas in 1978.

Saint Bernadette #1108, East Bernard, Established 1928, 50 Charter Members

Celebrates their 84th Anniversary, November 2012

7th Biennial Texas State Convention, May 6, 1929, Corpus Christi (From the minutes of St. Bernadette #1108: "at this convention we are numbered as the youngest, being only 6 months old, and we have fond dreams and aspirations of bringing to our next convention a report of our activities that will prove our ability to be of service to God and Country.")

On April 28, 1943, in spite of war conditions (WWII), one hundred and fifty (150) delegates and visitors gathered in Yoakum for the one day, 14th Biennial State Convention and Solemn High Mass with State Chaplain Reverend James J. O'Brien. State Regent "Mamie" A. J. LeBlanc was elected to serve as state regent; a position she held for 21 years. Our Lady of Guadalupe #206 served as the host court at St. Joseph Catholic Church and KC Hall.

Holy Rosary Court #1476, Rosenberg, Charter Members, June 6, 1948

Mother Teresa attended several national conventions. In a letter dated 6/21/1977 following the 1976 convention, Mother Teresa thanked the Catholic Daughters for their support saying, ... "God love you for the love you have shared and care you have shown to thousands of poor throughout the world by your generous giving...My prayers are with you, that you may remain faithful in sharing your love with Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor."

At the Chicago 1982 biennial national convention, Loretta Knebel, Court Our Lady Queen of Peace, #1374, El Campo, was elected as National Regent. She said that her "administration at all levels will listen and answer the call of Jesus to do His will." CDA was her life, she was described as an exemplar of the 'vocation to the single life.' Among other grants of her tenor, was a donation of $30,000.00 to Mother Teresa of Calcutta for her work with the poor and dying. Consider the significance: several Past National Regents and our 2011-2013 State Regent Malik have a similar passion for Mother Teresa. Carolyn's message, her service, and the theme of her term, "Come, Be My Light" mirror not only these current two years, but are evident in the selfless service of Texas Catholic Daughters throughout the past 95 years.

The second Texan elected as National Regent, 2008, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was Libby Ramirez, Saint Ann Court #369, Victoria. Olga Samaniego, Our Blessed Mother Court #1731, El Paso, stands in line to become the third national regent from Texas. Olga was elected as Second Vice National Regent at the 2012 National Convention, Omaha, Nebraska.

Texas State Court 95th Anniversary celebration
January 2012, South Padre Island

As we participate in the religious, charitable and educational Apostolates of the Church, we value the God-given talents of our members in meaningful ways that positively influence the welfare of the Church and all people.

Catholic Daughters in elementary schools, colleges, and in parish halls, actively live their love of Christ and His Church and thus lead others to Christ-centered service. This is most evident with Texas donating more funds for national charities and projects than any other state in the nation, and in receiving the 1st place award for the most courts instituted, a national award Texas has consecutively received since 1998.

CDA Courts throughout Texas celebrate the 95th Anniversary of our State Court in 2012, and we gratefully congratulate the many courts that celebrate landmark anniversaries.

State Chaplain Bishop Fellhauer celebrates the 60th Anniversary of St. Rose Court #1597, Schulenburg, February 2012, with Charter members, Court Chaplain and Officers, State Officers, and Immediate Past National Regent Libby Ramirez

60th Anniversary January 2012
State Clergy Consultant Reverend Donald Ruppert celebrates at St. Anthony, Columbus, Mary Queen of the Snows Court #1588

Our Lady of the Rosary Court #1595, Nada
60th Anniversary February 2012

50th Anniversary

Ancillae Mariae Court #1886, Crosby March 2012

Immaculate Heart of Mary Court #1884, Conroe

50th Anniversary

Celebrates with eight new members

The Knights of Columbus remain active with our Catholic Daughters and faithfully serve at CDA ceremonial events and Mass.

Saint Elizabeth Court #1616, Sealy, 60th Anniversary, August 2012

JCDA was formed February 22, 1926 with a motto "Be Useful" and the standard "love God, serve others, and live nobly". Today Texas has 76 JCDA Courts with 968 members!

Saint Paul Court #1604, Shiner
60th Anniversary
October 2012

Half of the Nations Campus Courts that bridge our juniors to the senior courts are located in Texas!

Life, Youth, Spirituality, Legislation, Education, Leadership, National Projects
The Circle of Love

The Sevenfold Program of Involvement was designed after Vatican II; simplified in 1975, and updated by Loretta Knebel, Texas, in 1985.

These "hands of service" from eight past state regents reflect generations of love and service, of different personalities and goals, of different ethnicities but the same faith. We serve in our parish and communities, we build our courts (junior, senior and campus), we develop new courts, and we use all that He has given us in genuine care for others. "It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God." 2 Corinthians 3:5

Seventeen years of State Regents Hands in service!

Front row L-R, Cecina Koeijmans, Dallas; Amy Rueda, El Paso; Libby Ramirez, Past National Regent, Victoria. Back row L-R, Immediate Past State Regent Sheila Martinka, Houston; Carolyn Bachmann, Scotland; Olga Samaniego, National Director, El Paso; Dee Scheetz, Austin; Duchess Collins, Past National Director, Sugar Land.

Texas Past State Regents
Sharing memorable moments of history and highlights of their term:

Margaret Cutbirth/1986-1988, Crosby: "What I remember the most is the amazing way that everyone came together to work as a team. Everything that needed to get done was accomplished by so many women that love God."

Cecina Koeijmans/1990-1992, Dallas: "It would be difficult to point out one positive happening of my term. The installation of new courts with all the new CDA members was always an inspiring and gratifying experience. I always felt so grateful when I was the guest in the homes of my hostesses as I traveled to the different courts; they were always so gracious and welcoming. Those two years were truly a blessing for me. Texas CDA members have so much for which to thank God. With the blessing of our Divine Savior, our 'foremothers' had the wisdom and the courage to start something new in Texas, and those leaders who followed, continue to carry the banner of 'Unity and Charity.' CDA has touched so many lives making a positive difference, to which I personally bear witness."

L-R, Carolyn Bachmann, Olga Samaniego, Duchess Collins, Libby Ramirez, Amy Rueda, Eunice Perusic, Cecina Koeijmans, Margaret Cutbirth

Eunice Perusic/1994-1996, Houston: "There are so many wonderful things that were accomplished in my term but my most touching remembrance is of an eight your old girl in Corpus Christi at the institution of a JCDA court. All the CDA members and JCDA members were dressed in white, it was just beautiful. I noticed a mother trying to convince her daughter not to leave; she must not have received the instructions to wear white as she was dressed in a precious red dress. I gently told her that God wanted her there and to join JCDA with the other girls, her red dress just showed how special she was, not different. She joined and I will always remember the hug I received.

I traveled with Mary Dvoracek/1988-1990 when she was state regent. We went all over the state holding workshops and instituting new courts. She was a school teacher, very strict with perfect adherence to ceremonial rules. Once, I forgot to pack my white shoes; instead of eating lunch after the workshop, I had to leave and go shopping for a pair of white shoes for Mass. In a lot of ways, I think I took after her during my term as state regent."

Amy Rueda/1996-1998, El Paso: "The history of our courts has changed from pomp and ceremonials, and from voting members into a court using the marbles in the wooden box to seeking out new members consistently. During my term, funds were very low, so we were called upon to raise dues and implement a mid-term fundraiser. I am proud that we were able to lay the foundation for the work in leadership and training that the state continues today."

Libby Ramirez/1998-2000, Victoria: "Standing on the shoulders of giants before me made it easier for me to say 'Here I am Lord' during my term as state regent. The greatest accomplishments of my term are those that I still see implemented in the state. The appointment of the first Clergy Consultant, the recognizing of the top five District Deputies, the multidistrict meetings and installation of officers are some of the accomplishments that I am very proud to have started during my term. As Catholic Daughters, we move forward when as we give from our hearts."

Duchess Collins/2000-2002,
Sugar Land: "During the 2000 State Convention, the delegates were asked, 'How does 200 courts by 2002 sound?' The delegates took on that challenge and throughout Texas the work began. Twelve new courts were needed to meet the state goal. On January 26, 2002, Texas exceeded that goal, with the institution of the seventeenth new court, which added 556 charter members to the Order. Together everyone accomplishes more; it's about membership growth and teamwork."

Dee Scheetz/2002-2005, Austin: "Congratulations to the brave ladies that had the foresight and courage to institute the Texas State Court; may all the officers that follow them continue their tradition. The building of the first CDA Habitat for Humanity house in Corpus Christi is my most memorable memory as state regent. I also appreciate the State Board for having the foresight to computerize state books allowing your officers to perform their jobs more efficiently and accurately."

Olga Samaniego/2005-2007, El Paso: "I was blessed to be able to work with the best women in the world! Together we placed an emphasis on spirituality and instituted seventeen new courts including the first campus court in Texas at Baylor University."

Carolyn Bachmann/2007-2009, Scotland: "The most positive thing occurring during my term was the Habitat Home we built in Wichita Falls in the fall of 2007. It was a joy to see the gratitude and happiness in the eyes of the beholder receiving our gift of love as she said to me, 'Why would someone who does not even know me want to help me get a home I can call my own?' This is what CDA sisters do in giving of themselves to help others. Continue your work for we are all bound as sisters. To quote Maya Angelou, 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel'. You have all made me feel like a brilliant star."

Sheila Martinka/2009-2011, Houston: "The one-on-one time given to our campus courts members when we held the first Campus Court State Retreat/Conference gave these young ladies a chance to bond with other campus CDA courts as they provided the state board an insight into their busy lives; finding balance in their studies, jobs, time to practice their faith through service, and time to help a family build their own home through CDA and Habitat- AND in record time! Pretty cool to have such a great group of women willing to work so hard for such a great cause; helping families not just build a home but a life. I thank God for each and every one of you and the awesome work that you do!"

Our worthy 2011-2013 State Regent Carolyn Malik added "It is truly an honor to serve as state regent as Texas CDA celebrates this milestone 95th anniversary. Texas Catholic Daughters are an active reflection of the ladies 95 years ago who laid a strong foundation for us. I am excited about the increased interest that our local courts are taking in Pro-Life activities across the State for this has been one of my goals for the current term. I often feel like I'm living in a 'pinch me' world when I have the privilege to institute new courts; especially when almost 200 excited ladies join our great Catholic Daughters order in just two days. Texas remains over the 16,000 member mark! Continue to be shining examples of Christian womanhood so that everyone will want to be a part of this great ministry; spirit filled women who love Christ, His Church, and all humanity in unity and love."

We make the sacrifice because of His sacrifice for us. We love, because He first loved us. We fight for the dignity of all mankind, for He humbled Himself for the dignity of all. Brag about your courts incredible love and service, tell your stories, and document them. What you archive now, will in 60, 80 or 95 years from now, serve as the reminder of how your success was not only in what amazing charities you funded, but in how much love your members engaged in as you made a positive difference in the lives of so many individuals.

Christ led you through dry seasons and the fire, through the struggles and to the completion of each project. "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's permission. Every hair on your head has been counted. Don't be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

District #35, Lake Jackson, celebrates Texas 95th Anniversary
with a Living Rosary


The Catholic Daughters of the America Herald courageously carried the 'Daughters' voice from 1904-1930; Women's Voice from 1930-1946; radio Station C.D.A. Broadcast Sheets from 1931-1950; News and Views from 1952-1966 until it became SHARE Magazine in 1970. Our Lord has placed us here to be His hands and His voice. Show your faithfulness and thanksgiving as you create your Court Memory Book of history, send articles to your local and diocesan newspapers, as you joyfully build your membership. As a Eucharistic community, bring your past into the present with gratitude, and into your future with new goals.

Alfreda Poth
(a retired school teacher,
now 102 years young)

Celebrates 82 years of
CDA membership-2012

May 2012, Anna Poth Court #1178,
Blessed Sacrament Church, Poth

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas, which originated as the Daughters of Isabella in Utica, New York, in the spring of 1903, has made significant contributions to the life of the Church and to the benefit of society in the United States and beyond. In 2003 as the Catholic Daughters of the Americas celebrated their 100th Anniversary, National Regent Grace DiCairano shared the rich heritage of our past with generations to come by telling the story of CDA, reporting significant events, recording achievements and keeping alive the memory of women who made our Order great with the publication of 'A Century In Review' (Book may be purchased from the national website). The chapters from cover to cover focus on the formation and development, leaders, and programs neatly placed into social and ecclesial contexts such as war, depression, civil-rights, anticommunism, Vatican Council II, and right-to-life activities.

Grace said, "'A Century in Review' reminds us that despite differences in age, education, heritage and yes, idiosyncrasies, we are a family… bound together by our common desire to uphold the dignity of women and defend family values. The history of an organization is the story of its people. It begins with a dream but its greatness is judged by service. The generosity of the membership has brightened the lives of many people with hope, consolation and a passport for a better life.

Mary Immaculate, our patroness, inspires us by example. She gives a lesson as to how God chooses ordinary means to do extraordinary things. She was the faithful disciple whose life touched ordinary people. She models the calling of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas."

Texas courts have been celebrating the 95th anniversary of the state court in a variety of ways; Multi District Retreats, Mass and Luncheon programs, Memorial Mass enrollments, and two new courts have been instituted.

On August 11, 2012 the newly installed Court Our Lady of the SEAS #2662, San Antonio, made history for Texas and the nation with a record breaking charter membership of 120!

2013 will mark the Century Anniversary Celebrations
for three of our first Texas Courts:

January 5, 2013, 100th Anniversary
Santa Maria Court #184, Marshall

March 10, 2013, 100th Anniversary
Our Lady of Guadalupe Court #206, Yoakum

June 22, 2013, 100th Anniversary
Louise Court #209, Fort Worth


Mary Drake, Fort Worth (1st term) 1917-1919
Alice Van Cleve, Corpus Christi (1 term) 1919-1919
Mary Drake, Fort Worth (2nd term) 1919-1921
Loretta Yeager, Galveston (1 term) 1921-1923
Ina Marie Poth, Yoakum (4 terms) 1923-1931
Mamie LeBlanc, San Antonio (10 terms +) 1931-1952
(During Mamie's term, State Conventions were moved to the
same year as National Conventions resulting in a 3 yr. state term)
Loretta Knebel, El Campo (3 terms) 1960-1966
Madeline Schmidt, San Antonio (3 terms) 1966-1972
Millie Schiurring, Garwood (2 terms) 1972-1976
Margaret Hosty, Dallas (2 terms) 1976-1980
Eleanor Treanor, Houston (2 terms) 1980-1984
Rowena Johnston, Weimar (1 term) 1984-1986
Margaret Cutbirth, Crosby (1 term) 1986-1988
Mary Dvoracek, West (1 term) 1988-1990
Cecina Koeijmans, Dallas (1 term) 1990-1992
Dolly Pena, Laredo (1 term) 1992-1994
Eunice Perusic, Houston (1 term) 1994-1996
Amy Rueda, El Paso (1 term) 1996-1998
Libby Ramirez, Victoria (1 term) 1998-2000
Duchess Collins, Sugar Land (1 term) 2000-2002
Dee Scheetz, Austin (1 term) 2002-2005
(During Dee's term, State Conventions were moved back to alternating
years with National Conventions resulting in a 3 yr. state term)
Olga Samaniego, El Paso (1 term) 2005-2007
Carolyn Bachmann, Scotland (1 term) 2007-2009
Sheila Martinka, Houston (1 term) 2009-2011
Carolyn Malik, Shiner (1 term) 2011-2013

~ ~ ~

We have answered the call to be His light.
The fruit of our faith is evident in our love.
The fruit of our love is visible in our service.

~ ~ ~

"As everyone who appreciates fine music knows, the overture is only part of the concert. And in their symphony of service to others, the Catholic Daughters' first 50 years in Texas may be likened to the overture - the exciting, stirring, opening passages of music that herald the major movements to come.

Viewed in another way, this Golden Anniversary is neither the end of one era nor the beginning of another, but merely a bridge across the present that is anchored in both the past and the future.

Spiritually as well as physically and financially, the work of the past continues through the present and cannot help begin projected on into the future. Illustrations of this theme may be found in the work of every Court.

Many courts now sponsor Junior Catholic Daughters of America and also Juniorettes.

Leaving out the physical aspects of the many buildings the Catholic Daughters have helped construct through donations, it may be pointed out that the sponsoring of Juniors who in turn will sponsor others later, and the continuing prayers for vocations, are typically examples of how the original work of a half-century ago is being perpetuated.

Thus does the past become merely the prologue."

Reverend Frederick O. Beck, 1960-1966 State Chaplain, Victoria

~ ~ ~

I sincerely appreciate the time and attention our Past State Regents provided in making this project a personal reflection of Texas CDA history. In addition, I want to thank Mary Impellizeri, National Administrative Assistant, and the members of our local courts for providing historical photos and quotes, and Second National Regent Olga Samaniego for proofing. Finally, I extend my deepest gratitude to State Regent Carolyn Malik for this privilege and opportunity. Texas has led the way in the past, in our present, and shall continue into our future. The story continues; may His light shine brightly in Texas CDA for another 95 years.

By Terrie Vacek, Texas State Public Relations Chair 2007-2013