“The purposes of the organization are to participate in the religious, charitable, and educational Apostolates of the Church. Catholic Daughters of the Americas engages 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.” — The Mission Statement for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas provides “support and sisterhood for women in the Church,” said Lorraine Durfee, state regent of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and a parishioner of St. Anthony Church in Bethel.

But that support extends beyond Catholic Daughters meetings, providing peace of mind to the many people members help.

Currently there are about 300 members of the Catholic Daughters in Vermont with courts in St. Albans, Montpelier, Barre, Bethel, and Hardwick.

Former State Regent Loretta Schneider, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church in Montpelier and member of Court St. Augustine #976, emphasized that the CDA is not a service organization. “We are a group of women who, through our love of Jesus Christ, are inspired to serve His people. We see Jesus in all our fellow citizens. Jesus is The King of Peace. When we honor Him, He gives us His peace, which is beyond understanding.”

CDA courts in Vermont have focused on raising money/goods that are donated to different charities including food shelves, a women’s shelter, a Catholic school and a nursing home. Fundraisers have included rummage, cake/pie, and flower sales.

State-level programs include an SOS Program in which courts adopted a seminarian or two and send them cards to encourage them, books, and some money for personal use. This Support Our Seminarians program was established in conjunction with the diocesan vocations director.

In addition, the state CDA financially assisted Aspire Together, a crisis pregnancy center, with funds to purchase an ultrasound machine and offers education scholarships and awards for high school seniors who are active their parish.

Also on the state level, there is a formal effort under the National Circle of Love program. The state regent oversees chairpersons who address concerns in education, family, leadership, legislation, quality of life, spiritual, and youth.

“We all do a lot for our communities and our parishes,” Durfee said, adding that the courts receive “great support” from the Vermont CDA chaplain, Father Patrick Forman.

Local courts also have “Sunshine Committees” that send cards to and visit members to offer emotional support. “I urge all our courts to keep in contact with members in nursing homes. It’s important to value the work and traditions of women who came before us,” she said.

The Vermont State Catholic Daughters of the Americas Board turned 100 years old in February; plans are underway for a celebration in May.

—Originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.