Supporting seminarians and members of the clergy has been a priority of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas for almost as long as the women’s organization has been in existence, members say. Local Catholic Daughters were to demonstrate that support once again Oct. 1 during the annual Past Regents Memorial Mass and Luncheon by presenting a check for $2,500 to Bishop Matthew H. Clark to be used for Rochester’s Seminary Fund.
The Catholic Daughters of the Americas was founded in Utica in 1903 by several members of the Knights of Columbus as a charitable, benevolent and patriotic sorority for Catholic women. The group was originally known as the Daughters of Isabella and changed its name to the Catholic Daughters of America in 1921. Shortly thereafter the organization became involved in community, social and ministry work.
“As far back as 1924 the Catholic Daughters recognized the importance of supporting our seminarians through prayer and monetary contribution,” said Barbara Campbell, regent of Blessed Trinity Court 2488 in Wolcott.
In 1952 Bishop Fulton J. Sheen — who would later become the sixth bishop of Rochester — challenged the members to extend their charity to the needy throughout the world, and the organization changed its name again, this time becoming the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Campbell said. Since then, members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas have donated to charitable causes, provided scholarships and supported the aged and infirm retired Catholic priests, according to the organization’s Web site.
Catholic Daughters throughout the world support seminary-training programs for priests, and the Catholic Daughters in New York are no exception. Each court in the state raises money throughout the year to be put into the state court’s seminary fund. The money raised in a given year is then divided equally between each diocese in the state, and checks are presented to each bishop. The amount of the donation varies each year, said Patricia Younglove, membership chairman for the state.
“It depends on how much we make. It’s collected just through donations for that specific purpose,” Younglove said, noting that last year each bishop received $2,000.
Catholic Daughters courts in different areas raise money for the fund in different ways. Some courts raise the money by selling commemorative Christmas ornaments each year, she said.
The Catholic Daughters’ support for the priesthood isn’t just limited to financial donations, however, said Ellen Bellizi, regent of Court Gleason-Clyde 924. Catholic Daughters pray for priests at each meeting, and once a year they honor local priests with a special Priests’ Day celebration, she said.
“It’s just so important to the Catholic Daughters. We do care,” Bellizi said.
Giving priests and seminarians financial and spiritual support also ties in to the Catholic Daughters’ motto, which is “unity and charity,” said Noel Myers, regent of Court Nativity of Our Lady 931 in Brockport.
Seminarians deserve support because they will soon be our priests, Younglove said.
“It’s the giving of charity, and it’s a very basic charity,” she added.
This support is especially important today, when Catholic priests seem to be in such short supply, Campbell said.
This year, the Blessed Trinity and Gleason-Clyde courts worked together to host the Past Regents Memorial Mass and Luncheon at St. John’s Church in Clyde. Hoan Dinh, a seminarian who recently completed his third year at the American College in Louvain, Belgium, planned to speak to the Catholic Daughters at the luncheon. Although Campbell expected about 150 Catholic Daughters — including state and national officers — to attend the luncheon, the organization is actively seeking new members, she said. Catholic women over the age of 18 are invited to learn more about the organization by contacting Younglove at 315/594-9958.
“Catholic women are invited to become a Catholic Daughter, to advocate for social justice, to continue the apostolate endeavors of the organization and to promote a quality of life,” Campbell said.