Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) was founded in 1903 as the National Order of Daughters of Isabella in Utica, New York by John E. Carberry, who served as the organizations first supreme regent. Carberry, along with other members of the Knights of Columbus, wanted to create a group that constituted a charitable, benevolent, and patriotic society for Catholic women. The Knights of Columbus established the organization’s two standards, unity and charity. In 1913, the Daughters of Isabella purchased a building in Utica belonging to the Knights of Columbus for its official headquarters. The Daughters of Isabella was renamed the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in 1921 and gained independence from the Knights of Columbus in 1925. Catholic Daughters of the America now has almost 95,000 members in 1,400 courts in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guam, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands.
The organization’s website states that Catholic Daughters’ mission is as follows: “Catholic Daughters of the America engages in creative and spiritual programs which provide its members with the opportunity to develop their special God-given talents in a meaningful way to positively influence the welfare of the Church and all peoples throughout the World.” The Catholic Daughters of the Americas state that they strive to embrace the principle of faith working through love in the promotion of justice, equality, and the advancement of human rights and human dignity for all.
One of the Catholic Daughters of America’s major initiatives is the Circle of Love Program. This program is used to connects the Catholic Daughters with the church and community. According to the program, “To be effective in promoting good works, we must reach out and make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering, whether it is through their own fault or the circumstances in which they find themselves. If we are to be ‘Jesus hands and feet’ as is pledged in the Act of Consecration during the Installation Ceremony, then we must use the talents He gave us, become educated in new fields, volunteer our services and financial assistance where needed.“ Another of the organization’s programs is Operation Morning Star; this program encourages Catholic women to speak out and become active on legislative issues at the local, state, and national levels.
During the Second World War the Catholic Daughters of the Americas contributed to the war effort by making bandages, sewing clothing, helping to finance the war effort through buying and selling war bonds, conducting first aid classes, and donating blood for the troops. The group held rallies protesting juvenile delinquency and racism. Catholic Daughters has supported programs at the Catholic University of America and the Holy Father’s Foundation, which assists Catholic churches in third world countries. The Catholic daughters also support Habitat for Humanity and the Alzheimer’s Association of America’s “Safe Return” program. The organization also includes domestic violence, addictions, single parenthood and suicide among its issues of interest.
Catholic Daughters of the Americas has branches in Richmond , Arlington, Alexandria, Newport News, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Norfolk. The total member ship of Virginia is about 480 with 100 members in Richmond. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas in the Richmond area belongs to two courts, the court of the St Ann’s Catholic Church and the court of the Church of the Redeemer. Each court sets up its own local community activity projects. Among the local projects associated with the Circle of Love Program are nursing home fashion shows, providing meals to the homeless, raising funds for a crisis pregnancy center, supporting homes for young mothers, and a community Easter egg hunt. The organization has also established a Junior Catholic Daughter group for girls between eight and eighteen. The girls help with the local Circle of Love activities and prepare for becoming an adult member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The organization offers scholarships to young men and women through an annual education contest at the local and national levels.
Catholic Daughters of the Americas
8212 North Shall Drive
Mechanicsville , VA 23111
Catholic Daughters of America website
Catholic Daughters of America local representative
Profile prepared by Courtney Culbreath