Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Everyone Loves a Catholic Girl

We might not have swords and feathery hats or be inducted into our organization in secret ceremonies, but the Catholic Daughters of the Americas is every bit as fun and just as important to the worldwide Church as its big brother, the Knights of Columbus. Members of CDA:
Engage in creative and spiritual programs which provide its members with the opportunity to develop their God-given talents in meaningful ways that positively influence the welfare of the Church and all people throughout the world. Catholic Daughters of the Americas strive to embrace the principal of faith through love in the promotion of justice, equality the advancement of
human rights and human dignity for all.

Our motto is "Unity and Charity," our symbol is the Cross and Crown and (the best of all) our colors are purple and white. I was inducted into CDA as part of our UMD campus court last February, a year after our court was established by fellow Catholic Girl Talker Anne. Our court's name is Ct. St. Maria Goretti, whom we chose as our patroness because we wanted our court's focus to be on chastity-related work.

Before CDA was established at UMD in 2004, I had never heard of the organization, though I did know a good deal about its big brother, the Knights. It's truly unfortunate that CDA has not spread like the Knights, as its mission is complementary to the Knights and can only enhance their work. I also think the establishment of well-run, vibrant CDA courts in parishes would eliminate the need for the rather superfluous growth of hodgepodge women's faith, service and social groups, as CDA would cover all of that ground. Plus, you get to brush up on your parliamentary procedure! What more could you want out of one organization?!

I joined about a dozen other members of our campus court in late April to attend the Maryland State Convention of CDA, which though occassionally boring and longwinded (plus the fact that we were the youngest people there by a good 30 years), was also telling - in both a good and bad way. For the bad, it was evident (to me at least) that by some of the comments made and correspondence read at the convention that CDA at the local, state and national levels has fallen on hard times. The reason? Its members are mostly elderly and when they die, they're not being replaced by new members. Evangelization of CDA's purpose and mission seems to be nonexistent and (judging by the other conference attendees) enthusiasm among some of the older members seems to be waning.

But those who are enthusiastic (and we are still the majority) are very energetic about our mission and do great things in service of God and country. Our own UMD Ct. St. Maria Goretti is one fine example. Just a little more than a year into existence, we co-hosted the biannual state convention and our regent was elected to the state officers' board. And the national CDA has reached out to our two past regents about spreading the message of campus CDA courts on a bigger stage. In more practical expressions of our work, we have sponsored a "White Ribbons Against Porn" Week on UMD's campus, hosted haircuts for charity days, led a novena to St. Maria Goretti and in September will be putting on a daylong retreat for local high school girls focusing on chastity.

So, to all you female readers of this blog, if you've not already done so, I encourage you to look into and pray about joining your local CDA court or, if there's not one, contacting state officers to find out how to establish one. CDA is an important ministry in the Church, specifically here in the U.S. and joining CDA will help spread the message of Christ in concrete ways through following the example of His Mother, Mary.