The Catholic Daughters of the Americas hosted the 52nd Biennial State Convention in Texarkana April 14-18, 2021. This was a big undertaking seeing as the convention which usually hosts over a thousand women was taking place just a year after the pandemic began. Texarkana and Sacred Heart Catholic Church were honored to be hosting the event, says former State Regent Melodie Brunt. All CDC precautions and protocol were followed as 482 CDA members and state officers gathered at the Texarkana Convention Center for a weekend filled with events and seminars.  

Melodie Brunt at the VIP Breakfast.

There are 244 CDA Courts in the state and Court Marie #344, along with several other Courts in the Tyler Diocese worked hard to make the convention a success. Although there were fewer attendees than in years past, Brunt stated that they saw a bigger profit this year which was phenomenal.  

Brunt, a long-time Texarkana resident and parishioner at Sacred Heart, has been the State Regent for two years and an active member since 1992. A committee of fifty members was led by two chairmen to accomplish in nine months what usually takes well over a year to do. With the uncertainty due to Covid-19, they were unsure if the convention would be able to take place. 

Chairwomen Pat Smith and Mary Jane Shuster worked hard with Brunt and countless others to ensure that a fun, successful weekend was to be had. The activities began on Thursday with an opening Mass presided by Bishop Joseph Strickland and former State Chaplain, Father Justin Braun at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A VIP breakfast, breakout sessions, and general meetings filled the day, with entertainment in the evening by singer Kristyn Harris, a recent competitor on the popular television series America’s Got Talent. A variety of vendors were on site and a silent auction of designer handbags proved to be very successful. Five out of fifty-two District Deputies were given awards and the existing CDA officers and state chairwomen conducted their business meetings. An early morning Fun Run occurred Saturday morning where members walked the perimeter of the nearby mall and raised more funds with participant entries and t-shirts for those in absentia.

The convention’s overall theme was a western hoe-down so the decorations and lively music followed the festive tone. More live entertainment and a formal dinner ceremony closed out the convention along with an Installation Mass in a tent outside the convention center. Father Victor Perez became the new State Chaplain and Rebecca Brown the new State Regent. 

Rebecca Brown is from Alvin, TX and in 2023 will preside over the next state convention which will be held in Galveston. Brunt recalls special moments over the weekend such as the officers donning their robes in which particular colors and emblems are significant. It was an emotional time during the Installation Mass when the new officers take their positions and the robes are transferred to them. Brunt issued five State Regent Awards, along with those she named “Above and Beyond Awards” to special people who helped her during her tenure and with the convention.  

CDA State Officers from left to right: Terrie Vacek, Rebecca Brown, Melodie Brunt, Carolyn Ritchey and Virginia Olsovsky

A charitable organization, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas has a long history not only in the state but around the country. The money they raise is distributed across ten charities, the top four being the Missionaries of Charity in Dallas, the Annunciation Home in Georgetown, Projecto in Brownsville, and Casa Juan Diego in Houston. Such groups are there for women, children, and families in need and offer various assistance year-round. Court Marie at Sacred Heart in Texarkana is 103 years old. Brunt’s term was officially over on May 30th of this year and her last task as regent was to install the newest Court Rosa Mystica, #2771 in Mt. Pleasant. In addition, CDA builds a Habitat for Humanity house each term and distributes between 40-50 scholarships through a Memorial Fund established in 1980 as a tribute to the deceased past state regents. The scholarships are offered to graduating seniors who are Junior CDA members or those related to current members. All past regents are honored as well, with several in attendance at each convention. 

All members at the 2021 convention were grateful to have the opportunity to gather and make memories, especially amidst the challenges and circumstances of the past year. For more information on Catholic Daughters of the Americas or to make a donation please visit www.TexasCDA.org.

Cover Image: Clergy, CDA State Officers and Past State Regents.

By Lindsey McMillan

Lindsey McMillan has lived in Texarkana for nineteen years and is a parishioner at Sacred Heart Church. There she is active on the Parish Council, ACTS community, and is a lector. Lindsey is an adjunct English instructor at Texarkana College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She has been a freelance writer since 2005 and enjoys travel, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She has been married to her husband Chris for twenty-six years and they have two college-aged children, Emily and Patrick. She’s also mom to shelties Honey and Trixie and cat Hallie.