THE CATENIAN ASSOCIATION
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The Catenian Association was founded in 1908, as the ‘Chums Benevolent Association’. Two years later, it adopted the present title of the Catenian Association. Taking its name from the Latin catena for a chain. The Association was organised into local “Circles”, each circle forming one link in a chain. From these small beginnings, we have become an international association with over 10,000 members. Originally, at a time of some anti-catholic feeling in England, the Association was intended to give mutual support and social contacts for Catholic professional and businessmen. The need for members to be in either a profession or business occupation has been dropped, and membership is now open to ‘Catholic gentlemen from any walk of life. In 2008 the Association celebrated its centenary with a wide range of special events.
Our Catholic faith is the bedrock of the association. Each year we have a President’s Mass which is a celebration of both our faith and family, normally followed by a family meal. Each Circle also has an annual Mass for Vocations and invites local clergy to appropriate functions throughout the year.
Today, in times when Catholics are subjected to less prejudice, the basic aims of the Association remain unchanged. The Catenian Association is a social and support network for members and their families. This is reflected in the first three of the Association’s official aims:
a) to foster brotherly love among the members.
b) to develop social bonds among the members and their families.
c) to advance the interests of members and their dependants by individual or collective action.
The Association also maintains two charities (see below) and provides career guidance support for young Catholics. Many Catenians have an active role in their local parishes and dioceses, as well as major Catholic lay organisations.
The association is not:
a) A political organisation, membership is open to those of all political views, except those that directly contradict the church’s social teaching.
b) A Catholic action group, pressure group, or fractional interest group. The Association provides fraternal support for Catholics of all theological opinion.
c) A Catholic version of the Round Table. While the Association does support its own charities (see right), it does not primarily operate as a fund raising body for external organisations or the Catholic Church (beyond the occasional raffle).
d) A secretive organisation. (Indeed, membership may not be extended to people who are already members of such organisations).
Strengthening family life through friendship and faith
The Association is not primarily a fund raising organisation. However, the Association does run two charities of its own. The ‘Bursary Fund’ exists to support young Catholics who are considering taking a gap year, or other project, that is of value to the wider community. The ‘Benevolent Fund’ exists to support members, or their families, who are facing financial difficulties.
In addition to monthly dinners, there is a wide variety of social events for members and their families. These range from theatre visits and barbecues to golfing weekends. There are various Catenian groups, some national - others informal, for members with particular social interests.
Organisation and structure.
Local circles form the core of the Association, each circle has an elected council to run its affairs. The circles are formed into Provinces, which are currently spread over six countries. Provincial councils are made up of elected councillors and appointed Officers. Each province has an elected Director who sits on the National Council, Just recently, the international governing body of the Association has created the Central Council. Head office staff, under the direction of the National Council, organise the day-to-day administration of the Association.
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Catenian circles meet and hold a dinner monthly. Meetings open and close with prayers, but not quasi-religious ceremonies. Contrary to some people’s perceptions, there are no strange Masonic type rituals. After opening prayers, meetings follow the type of agenda any business meeting may have: apologies, the minutes of the last meeting, various reports, A.O.B., etc. Most dinners are for members of the circle and their guests only, but ‘ladies nights’ and ‘clergy nights’ are also held. Occasionally meetings may be preceded by Mass, and after dinner there may be a quiz, talk, or social event. It is a strong custom for the Catenians to visit other circles.
Aims of the Association