Vickie Feist of Pierre had no intention of being involved in leadership when she joined the Catholic Daughters of the Americas nearly 13 years ago.

“I never anticipated being a state or national officer on any level. I got involved because of the spirituality. The prayer with other women was so powerful that I thought it was one way for me to grow in faith with other Catholic women,” said Feist, who attends Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Pierre. But because of what she valued in the organization, leadership seemed to float her way.

“I have such a desire to help Catholic Daughters grow and make that opportunity available for other women,” she said. “And as part of that, the opportunity for leadership came in.”

Feist is currently in her last year as state regent for South Dakota for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the chief administrative position for the state. And in July, at the Catholic Daughters’ 54th Biennial National Convention in Omaha, Neb., she was selected for a two-year term as one of nine national directors for the organization. She begins her new duties on Aug. 16.

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas is one of the oldest and largest organizations of Catholic women in the Americas.  Formed in 1903, today it numbers 75,000 dues-paying members in 1,250 courts, or local chapters, in 45 states across the country, as well as in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Feist is a member of Court St. Ann #1121 in Pierre.  The court is affiliated with Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Pierre. Court Chaplain is Father Kristopher Cowles, a diocesan priest and Associate Pastor of Saints Peter & Paul parish. Court St. Ann was chartered on March 3, 1929, and has 110 members.

Feist said Catholic Daughters of the Americas was very important to Catholic women in its first decades because its gatherings were times when women could leave their children and their husbands at home and meet with other women from their local parish.

That social engagement is less important now that it’s become ordinary for women to work outside the home, Feist said, but more Catholic women now look to the Catholic Daughters for the same things she found in the organization – a means to grow in the faith. Many women appreciate the Catholic Daughters’ work with youth and on pro-life issues, she added.

But carrying on the ancient faith in the 21st century poses new challenges for women, Feist said.

“It used to be, as young women and young men, we were given our faith by our parents and grandparents. There was an emphasis on believing what we were told and not challenging it,” she said. “Now our society has become a lot more cynical and there’s more emphasis on challenging anything.”

That’s not necessarily bad, Feist said, because Christianity is durable enough to stand up to the challenges.

“I think it can, and in fact I see a younger generation that seems to be more invested in their faith and in a relationship with their church – in addition to being in a relationship with God, being a part of a church community.”

Feist said there still may be regional differences that make for stronger faith in states such as South Dakota.

“I think there is a stronger sense of faith and a sense of God in the Midwest,” she said. “Maybe our pace of life is a bit slower yet and family and God, for most people, have a pretty important place in their lives. Seeing tornadoes and blizzards occasionally probably helps us remember as well.”

Feist grew up in Hillsboro, N.D., and attended what is now the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. She and her husband, Lynn, have two adult children, Alexander and Bethanna. They have lived in Pierre for 15 years.

Learn more about the Catholic Daughters of the Americas at its website, www.catholicdaughters.org.

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