By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
For the past 65 years, the mission of the ever-faithful group of Catholic women meeting in Middletown can be distilled into just two words: unity and charity.
The women, members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas’ Fulgens Corona Court #1684, were in a proclamation issued April 6 by Middletown Mayor Tony Perry and Committeewoman Pat Snell. But public accolades take a back seat to that all-important mission to serve Church and community under the loving eyes of Mother Mary, says charter member Janet Bilotta.
Bilotta should know: she remembers first joining the court as a 20-year-old alongside her mother. Father Robert T. Bulman, St. Mary Church pastor at the time, led 34 women of the parish to form a local court of the philanthropic organization and name it for the illustrious crown of Mary.
“At the time, my mother encouraged me to join,” Billota remembered. “There were fewer ministries in the Church in which we could get involved.”
Now 60 members and flourishing, the court assures local needy they will not be forgotten, especially around the holidays.
“At Easter, we gave out [grocery store] gift cards and goody bags to the poor,” Bilotta said. “At Christmas, we contributed to Birthright, local soup kitchens, and our seminarians.”
Donations to the Mercy Center, Asbury Park, disaster relief, and gifts to ill members of the parish are also among their good works, but spiritual acts are also a main charism of the group.
“We hold retreats, sponsor scholarships to higher education, hold poetry, essay and art contests for the little ones,” she enumerated. “We also support the Life Teen student trips to Steubenville,” she enumerated. “
The court attracts women not only from St. Mary, but also from other parishes in the Bayshore area, and Bilotta credits current regent, Kathleen Poracky, for attracting more women to the philanthropic organization in surrounding parishes.
“We support parish and community events,” Bilotta explained. “We touch the lives of many of these in need.”
The group meets monthly for a business meeting and special event. The next scheduled meeting of the CDA Fulgens Corona court is May 8 at 7 p.m. in St. Mary Church, Middletown, in the lower Church hall. The members will hold a May crowning at the meeting.
According to their website, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas is one of the largest organizations of Catholic women in the world and are dedicated to “participate in the religious, charitable and educational apostolates of the Church by strengthening their spiritual life [and] pursuing their mission of faith working through love in the promotion of justice, equality and the advancement of human rights and dignity for all.”
Founded in 1903 in Utica, N.Y. by the Knights of Columbus, it began as a charitable, benevolent and patriotic sorority for Catholic ladies. Under their motto “Unity and Charity,” the CDA fulfills their mission by supporting their local clergy and religious; evangelizing for the faith; providing scholarships to youth; supporting women, children and veterans; and working with Habitat for Humanity.
In 1954, the order changed its name to the Catholic Daughters of the Americas; now an independent organization headquartered in Manhattan, N.Y., the CDA has courts (councils) in 45 states and overseas. The Fulgens Corona court is one of about 30 in New Jersey.
For further information on the Catholic Daughters in Middletown, call Janet Bilotta at 732-977-6789.