Local Ministries Parishes

Daughters of Isabella still cooking up new ideas

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

LENEXA — Silver and gold is the new year theme for one of the longest running Daughters of Isabella chapters in the archdiocese. Holy Trinity Parish Circle No. 421 here celebrated its 80th year in 2008, honoring members who have been members for as many as 70 years.

But don’t let the longevity of this chapter fool you. It also boasts many new members with fresh ideas.

As they head into 2009, these Daughters are launching projects that will broaden the chapter’s appeal, visibility and pocketbook — benefiting the many charitable organizations supported by their generosity.

Vicki Wise, a past regent and current vice regent, has been with the chapter for 10 years. She said current membership exceeds 130, with about 50 very active members.

The group’s most recent venture is a cookbook called “A Taste of Heaven.” The name does not exaggerate the talent these women bring to their cooking — a fact attested to by Judith Hilliard, who has been a member for three years.

“They had a Christmas potluck about a year ago,” she said. “There was all this really good stuff, and I thought, ‘Gosh, I would like to have the recipe for that!’ So I said to Teri [Peterson, head of the Welfare Committee], ‘Maybe we could make a cookbook; I would love all these recipes.’

“And that’s how the whole thing started.”

Hilliard and Peterson launched a parish-wide campaign to find the best recipes and created a cookbook just in time for the Christmas season. Sales were phenomenal.

“We got 550 copies and have about 13 left,” said Hilliard, just a week before the holidays. “This has just been amazing. They’ve sold much faster than we thought.”

But the cookbook’s success was no surprise to Katie Schroeder who has been a Daughter of Isabella for 10 years. Potlucks are a popular venue for group gatherings. Hosts for the occasions usually supply the meat and guests bring everything else.

“So it’s always a wide variety of food as well as camaraderie,” said Schroeder. “And there are a lot of good cooks in that group!”

Schroeder said she joined the Daughters to meet people, and she encourages others to do the same.

“It’s just a great way for the women of the parish — because it is such a big parish — to get to know each other,” she said

Pastor Father Tom Dolezal is enthusiastic in his praise for the organization and said its benefit to the parish goes beyond the friendships it inspires.

“They are a very active group,” he said. “It is not just about being social; they really get out and do things and are very visible in the parish.

“The Daughters and the Knights (of Columbus) go hand in hand. They both have roots back to Father McGivney,” he said. “And the Daughters are right there with the Knights helping to promote the corporal works of mercy.”

Proceeds from the cookbook will benefit Holy Trinity Parish’s faith formation pro- gram and several charities, including Alexandra’s House, Safehome, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Father Bala’s leper colony and Villa St. Francis.

“It’s just a good way to get to know a lot of the women of the parish and feel like you’re doing something worthwhile,” said Hilliard.

The group also nourishes the spiritual hunger of its members with faith enriching conferences, activities and community Mass celebrations. Prayer is an important part of the monthly meetings, and members share a weekly hour of eucharistic adoration.

Kitty Deady said one of the aspects she likes most is the chapter’s prayer chain.

“If you need prayer for anybody,” she said, “you can call [Regent Pat Wineland] and she’ll tell the person in charge of the prayer chain, and they’ll start calling.”

Deady said for a group that only meets once a month, she’s amazed at how much good is accomplished by the Daughters. She currently serves on the Welfare Committee and is heading efforts to host a Valentine dance and dinner — something the Daughters hope to make an annual event.

Wise said the Valentine dance is just one example of fresh ideas brought to the group by new members. But one thing she treasures about this chapter is its unity and the way all members, old and new, are valued.

“Our senior members are very supportive of us and those that can’t come [to activities] we call our prayer ambassadors,” she explained. “When we have a sick member, we call them and put them in the loop to say prayers for the member. I think that says a lot for our organization and the longstanding support we have for one another.”

Wise, who moved into the parish from Chicago, said she will always be grateful for her membership in the Daughters of Isabella.

“It was a way for me to connect with other women, and so that’s how I got started in it,” she explained. “Of course, my husband says now his friends are my friends from church — and he’s a native of Lenexa!”

“They’re always there when the parish has a need,” concluded Father Dolezal. “They’re either coming up with their cookies and desserts or they’re actually, physically, there serving and taking care of the needs of the parish — and that is the purpose of the Daughters.”

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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