Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

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HARTFORD – Arline Rich, a parishioner at St. Peter Claver in West Hartford, has been elected as a national director of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, one of the oldest and largest organizations of Catholic women in the Americas.

Miss Rich was elected at the organization’s 56th biennial national convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., attended by 919 members, voting delegates and clergy from across the country. Previously, she served as a national director from 2012-14.

“We have five projects that we participate in, and we have many charities, and it’s just kind of fun to see where my little dues gets put into on the national level,” Miss Rich said in an interview.

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas was formed in 1903 and today numbers 68,000 dues-paying members in 1,250 courts (local chapters) in 45 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, according to Tom Panas, publicist for the group. Miss Rich said that a court was started recently in Kenya.

Miss Rich is a member of Court St. Augustine #1104 in Hartford. Sister of Mercy Mary Arlene Vannie is court spiritual advisor. Court St. Augustine was chartered in 1928 and has 26 members.

As a national director, Miss Rich is a member of the organization’s top national leadership, consisting of five national officers and nine national directors who administer, set policy and establish goals for the Catholic Daughters.

Among the local charities the court supports are The House of Bread and St. Elizabeth House, both in Hartford. They also support national charities. Miss Rich said that last year her court donated $15,000 to Smile Train, an organization that corrects cleft palates in Third World countries.

“We also sponsor Habitat for Humanity. I’ve had the privilege of going to Pasco, Washington, to donate a week of my time to building a home for a family out there. We’ve done about 24 homes throughout the United States,” she said.

The St. Augustine court members will soon attend a dinner at which they will donate $10,000 to SOAR! (Saving Our Aging Religious) to aid men and women religious in their retirement, Miss Rich said.

“Our chapter does a magazine drive, similar to what they do in the schools. There is another chapter in the state that has an Irish soda bread sale, and they raise fantastic amounts of money,” she said.

Some of that money goes toward scholarships, including $500 grants to incoming freshmen at Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Hartford.

“We hear so much about the needs of different organizations in our towns and state and nationally, and it’s sort of my way of saying I’m trying to help by donating my time and donating to these organizations,” she said.

Mr. Panas said of her, “Arline Rich is a wonderful person, Catholic Daughter and leader. Four years ago she was a National Director for a two-year term, and after a two-year hiatus, has returned for another two years. The Catholic Daughters are grateful. I have known Arline for many years and have always been thankful to be in the presence of her compassion, spirituality and deep faith.”

He added that membership offers women “the unique combination of spirituality and charitable action that is part of being a Catholic Daughter. Another [reason to join] is the opportunity to have, as one Catholic Daughter put it, ‘woman time’ together: being with other Catholic women, sharing faith, friendship, laughter, tears and charity. It’s akin to what Pope John Paul II called ‘feminine genius,’ a richly intuitive embrace of faith and life that women seem to have instinctively.”

Information about the organization is available from national executive director Mary Impellizeri at 212-877-3041; cdofanatl1@aol.com; or www.catholicdaughters.org.

Miss Rich can be contacted about the local court at 860-232-5164.