Chartered with 101 original charter members on March 4, 1945, Court Our Lady Queen of Peace No. 1374 currently has 475 members. Gathering at the El Campo Civic Center on Sunday, March 1, they remembered founding members as well as celebrated their 75th anniversary.

“Today is dedicated to all court members, especially the ladies who have been members 40, 50, 60 and 70 years, and have continuously contributed their time, efforts, resources and wisdom throughout their membership to make this organization so great,” Regent Dana Sternadel said. “You have truly demonstrated the CDA motto of ‘Unity and Charity,’ and we hope to continue your work for many years to come.”

To distinguish and honor members at the event, each wore a purple ribbon, some of which had gold roses. A lapel pin of the Blessed Virgin Mother was used to attach each ribbon to the recipient’s garment to also serve as a souvenir. 

“Each rose represents one decade of membership in our court, so you’ll see some ribbons with no rose for the new, less than 10-year members, all the way to seven roses for those ladies with over 70 years in our court,” Sternadel said.

A white rose on the purple ribbon distinguished the past regents.

The day began with Mass at 11:30 a.m. followed with a banquet and program. Sternadel welcomed everyone, including state officers and Catholic Daughters attending from area courts.

Original officers of Court No. 1374 were Mabel Bouligny, grand regent who was very instrumental in the court’s founding; Cecile Lippman, vice regent; Georgia Wendt, prophetess; Evelyn Kainer, lecturer; Edith Naiser, historian; Anglen Slovak, financial secretary; Bessie Vacek, treasurer; Margaret Ermis, monitor; Billie Phillips, sentinel; Julia Chovanec, organist; Agnes Netardus, Martha Carville, Blanche Bell and Clarice Yahn, trustees; and the Rev. V.A. Raska, chaplain.

“Today’s anniversary is celebrating all our court members, but we have three ladies that get special recognition,” Sternadel said.

Those included Edna Krenek, who is 97 and the oldest member; Florence Adamitis, the only local living charter member who is still a member of our court and Lillian Hansen. They were was also in attendance

“This lady (Lillian Hansen) would’ve been a charter member, but she was too young to join in 1945,” Sternadel said. “Lillian Hansen did join our court in 1946, and has been a very active member throughout all these years. She held every office in our court and attended numerous state and national conventions.

For the past couple dozen years, Lillian has taken care of the funeral receptions for our deceased members and their spouses.

“Out of 101 original charter members, 98 of them have moved up to heaven, probably arguing whose kolache recipe is best or who plays the best hand of 42 or whose great-grandchildren are the cutest,” Sternadel said.

In addition to Adamitis, the other two living members are Liberty Chomout Pollard of Huntsville and Gladys Slovak Bubela of Columbus. Both have resigned their membership.

Also recognized for her persistence was founding member and the first regent, Mabel Bouligny.

“Our court began because of the strong determination of one lady, Mabel Bouligny,” Sternadel said. “When Bonnie Collins was collecting information about today’s anniversary, Mabel’s name was often mentioned. Bonnie spoke to Mabel’s son, Jim Bouligny, and he told Bonnie ‘Mom was very determined to start a court in El Campo. The priest at the time was Father Victor Raska, and he was not so keen on the idea. In fact, he said no. Mother went to Victoria to visit the Bishop. Shortly after, Father Raska decided that a Catholic Daughters Court could be established.’”

“So thanks to Mabel Bouligny and probably a few other determined ladies, we are sitting here today, 75 years later,” Sternadel said.

Another influential member of the court recognized during the program was the late Loretta Knebel, a charter member who held every office, from the local court to national regent. Her accomplishments were featured in the program and a memorabilia table was set up in her honor. She was elected as state regent in 1960 and was instrumental in boosting local court membership all over the state, and during her tenure, Texas CDA had an increase of 14 local courts and four more districts.

“Loretta Knebel clearly exemplified the purpose of CDA throughout the 65 years of her life,” Sternadel said. “At her election as national regent in 1972, she said her ‘administration at all levels will listen and answer the call of Jesus to do His Will.’”

Current officers, in addition to Sternadel as regent, are Rose Ann Mitchell, vice regent; Lori Kocurek, recording secretary; Janiece Holub, financial secretary; Jeraldine Socha, treasurer and Father Michael Rother, chaplain.

Scrapbooks and a slide show were also made available for all to enjoy.

At one time the court included members from not only St. Philip Catholic Church, but also from the parishes of St. Robert’s, St. John’s in Taiton, St. Andrew’s in Hillje and St. Procopius in Louise.

With time, each broke away to form their own courts with exception of St. John’s who remained with St. Philip’s membership.

Court No. 1374 participates in several charitable projects, such as donations to the Diocesan Seminary Burse, St. Philip School, college scholarships, Wharton County Youth Fair, the El Campo Branch Library’s summer reading program and more. They also head up the education contest, host a reception for graduating high school seniors, host funeral receptions for members and their spouses and provide memorials for deceased members. They are responsible for other projects and giving as well.

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