Rimkus: Hudson Catholic Daughters of America disbands after 95 years

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By Rosemary Rimkus, Hudson Columnist

Rimkus: Hudson Catholic Daughters of America disbands after 95 years
In the 1950’s, officers of  Court St. John Eudes, Catholic Daughters of  America, included Rev. Daniel F. Cronin, seated in center, chaplain, and Margaret Fox, far right, a founder. The Court disbanded in December, 95 years after its founding, due to diminishing membership and lack of participation. (Submitted photo)

HUDSON – The Court St. John Eudes, Hudson chapter of Catholic Daughters of America (CDA), voted to disband late last year, following the path of many exclusively women’s groups in  Hudson. 

Founded in 1926, the membership of Hudson Catholic women had reduced to 18 members, with a maximum of seven attending a meeting, according to Grand Regent Janet Wisti. 

Ms. Wisti, who is the youngest member, said that she has served eight times as
Grand Regent (highest local office), and has watched the membership and participation diminish. She said membership peaked to 160 in the 1980’s. 

“Lately, we have not attracted younger members,” she said, “and there is general disinterest.”

The late Margaret Fox was the principal founder of the religious, charitable and educational group 95 years ago. Over the years, the chapter has donated scholarships annually to graduating high school seniors, sponsored baby showers for Birthright residents and packed boxes for the Boston Seaman’s Aid Society. It has also knitted afghans for area hospitals, nursing homes and Veterans hospitals. 

Fundraisers like food sales and entertainment programs enabled the group to donate to Rosie’s Place, a homeless shelter in Marlborough, the Hudson Coalition and other charities.  

“For many years, we filled about 100 May Baskets with gifts and goodies and distributed  them to area nursing homes and shut-ins,” said Ms. Wisti. “We lasted 95 years, and I hated to see the chapter close.”

Following suit

The Hudson Woman’s Club, inaugurated in 1898, similarly voted to disband in 2008. 

Founded for “social, intellectual and moral interests,” the club once had over 100 members. 

“Although we once had a waiting list, membership had dwindled,” former club officer Jeannette Pauplis said.

She said that, in recent years, women have gone to work, or have had other interests.

The Women’s Auxiliary of the Hudson Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) had been active since the 1950’s but dissolved about 10 years ago. 

Many former members have joined the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and member Deb Pelletier notes that the current FOE president is a woman – Kristie Raymond. 

The Emblem Club, an arm of the Fraternal Order of Elks, was very active from the 1960’s through the 1990’s. Charter member Mary Hellen said the Emblem Clubs were incorporated into the Elks clubs when the national headquarters authorized women membership several years ago.

The Women’s Auxiliary of Manning Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, disbanded about two years ago. 

“The membership was getting older, and there were no new members,” VFW quartermaster Jim Cabral said. 

June Miller of  St. Luke’s Episcopal Church said the church’s Altar Guild is operating with a “skeleton crew.”

“We are aging out and have a diminished congregation,” she noted.

A spokesperson for the First Federated Church said that their Women’s Group disbanded over 30 years ago. 

On the other hand

On the other hand, women of  the First United Methodist Church are active in two groups.

Leader and longtime parishioner Barbara Moore said about a dozen women are active in the church’s Women’s Group and a unit of Magnolia Rebekah Lodge. 

“We have 10 to 15 workers who faithfully help to prepare foods for the Farmers Market and our free grab-n-go suppers,” she said. 

The women provide food at funeral collations,  cook chili and pot roast, and bake pies. “Annually, we provide gifts for needy families at Christmas,” she said, “and the Eye Bank at John Hopkins Hospital is one of our many charities.” 

Members of  the Auxiliary of Kenneth Thibault Post, Hudson Amvets, are part of the crew that prepares, bakes and delivers over 100 dinners to needy and homebound area residents at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Commander Joe Jacobs said that the women are “active members of the kitchen crew.” Local Boy Scouts also assist.  

Amvets Auxiliary president Judy Dascoli said members also raise funds with Meat Shoots and other money-raisers. Members additionally donate faithfully to the American Heart Association, Breast Cancer and Toys for Tots.

Nancy Rogers of the First Unitarian Society of Marlborough and Hudson said the church doesn’t have organized women’s “clubs” per se. The Unitarian Society has women’s spirituality groups (meeting remotely at present) though, including “Hudson’s Red Tent Women,” which was started over ten years ago, and the “Sisters of the Sacred Feminine.”

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