Feast of the Blessed Sacrament Votes on Motion to Include Women
The general assembly for the members of New Bedford's Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the Clube Madeirense S.S. Sacramento, Inc., met on Sunday morning to discuss a number of different items.
One of those items up for discussion was whether or not to change the club's bylaws to allow women to be included as committee members. In order for the change to be adopted, 75% of the general assembly would have to agree to the motion.
The feast organization follows Robert's Rules of Order, which is a framework of rules that helps groups hold orderly meetings. The motion was proposed prior to the pandemic, back in 2017, by former feast president Steve Duarte. The bylaw committee then makes the changes to reflect the motion. The verbiage goes before the board, and then the bylaw change goes before the general assembly.
In order to change the bylaws, 75% of the general assembly would have to vote in favor of allowing women to serve on a committee. The vote fell short. "When you read out bylaws, it says 'male,' so the change would have included anyone," said feast spokesperson Steve Duarte.
Each August, on the Sunday evening at the end of a feast, the new committee meets for the first time. The way the bylaws currently read is that committee members must be male descendants of Madeira from either parent's side of the family.
The feast has held it's male only tradition for its committee for 108 years. The 108th Feast of the Blessed Sacrament will be held on August 1, 2, 3, 4, of 2024