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placeholder March 6, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
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Catholic Daughters: A legacy of faith and sharing

Each day this month, the local Catholic Daughters of the Americas will be praying for priests who serve in the Diocese of Oakland. They're praying for the bishops, too, current and emeritus.

The history of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas dates back to their founding in 1903 by the Knights of Columbus. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas' local presence predates the formation of the Diocese of Oakland.

The Bishop's Burse, the every-other-year presentation of a check to the bishop for the formation of seminarians, was created to honor the appointment of the Most Rev. Floyd L. Begin, the first bishop of Oakland. That was the words of Marie Miraglia, who was serving as the organization's state regent in 1962.

Longtime members recall Bishop Begin's enthusiastic presence at their events.

The daughters are dutiful: Not only do they support their local bishop, they work with parishes and organization on local, state, national and international levels.

The Dublin court, as the individual chapters are called, supports Birthright of Livermore; international children's aid society Unbound — through which they have adopted a child in Africa; and Kids Against hunger. They help homeless women through A Friendly Manor and seniors in West Oakland with their monthly gift of what's needed at St. Mary's Center, as well as an afternoon of preparing a meal for the guests there.

The Dublin court is particularly proud to be supporting three seminarians in formation for the Diocese of Oakland. A seminarian for whom they provided support not too many years ago, Rev. Lawrence D'Anjou, is now their pastor.

The St. Raymond Court was founded in the early 1970s by Reina Whitney, who is an 80-year member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

"She is the grand lady of the Catholic Daughters," said Tess Chaimpas, who serves as regent for the St. Raymond court as well as state membership chair.

Whitney, she said, became a member as a child. Today's members join at 18 or later. Chiampas joined in 2013, after retiring from one of her two jobs.

"I really, truly love it," she said. "I enjoy everything I do for the Catholic Daughters."

Her regret: "I regret that I didn't join sooner," she said

The Catholic Daughters invite women to join them.

In her statewide membership work, Chiampas has sent 275 letters to dioceses and parishes, offering help in creating new courts.

Members enjoy the spiritual benefits and the "close bonds of sisterhood," she said.

"By joining together to work for the common good, there's little we cannot accomplish," she said.

Other courts in the Oakland diocese are the Court of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brentwood; Court of St. Mary Margaret in Pittsburg; Court of St. John Baptist de la Salle in Concord; and Court of Father Francisco de la Suen in Fremont.

In Dublin, once a year there's a membership drive. "We invite everyone in the parish to join, she said. But between those drives, the Catholic Daughters are open to members. "We show them by example we are working," she said. "They like what they see and want to join."

In the Dublin court, dues are $35 a year and members meet once a month. "Our agenda is always full," she said.

There is work to be done. And fun to be had, too. The Court of St. Raymond's next major fundraiser is its 17th annual Spring Fling, set for 11 a.m. April 29, featuring a salad luncheon and bingo. At $20, it's a bargain, Chiampas notes. RSVP to Maureen Laubacher at maurlaub@aol.com.

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