The Catenian Association

The Catenian Association was founded in 1908 at the suggestion of Bishop Louis Casartelli, the then Bishop of Salford. The Association began life in Manchester with the rather “olde worlde” title of “The Chums”. It may have used the language of the “Boys’ Own” newspaper but it accurately reflected the needs of young men for support in the day to day life they followed. The social environment in which they lived was difficult and even hostile. The law preventing Catholics from practising their Faith was abolished some 60 years before. There remained, however, deep paranoia over the role of the Church especially in education. For whatever reason, it was difficult being a Catholic and young men experienced those difficulties in relation to employment more than perhaps did women who had yet to enter the workforce in serious numbers.

The name was changed to the Catenian Association in 1915. This was derived from the Latin word “catena” meaning a chain. The Association is made up of branches called “circles”, each forming a link in a chain that now stretches from Manchester to the other side of the world. There are now Circles throughout the UK, Ireland, Malta, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Australia and, more lately, India.

Catenians are not a Catholic action group but is an association which is proudly Catholic and its purposes are unashamedly social. You will not see a Catenian spear heading a campaign for a particular Catholic cause. But as our previous Archbishop, Peter Smith, frequently acknowledged, the Association does a great deal of work, quietly, discretely and away from public view. You will find Catenians in public life in national and local politics. Catenians will be at work in parishes doing various jobs from being altar servers, organising catechesis, being extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, managing parish finances through to chairing parish councils. You will find them active in Catholic and other sympathetic organisations eg Christian law centres, SPUC, ALDU. They sustain these positions often fortified by the support and encouragement of like-minded individual who they meet on a regular basis.

The Association has two principal aims. The first is to promote social bonds between its members. These bonds of friendship are the cement which keep the “links of the chain in place”. They are built up through attendance at monthly meetings, often followed by dinner and/or a few drinks in the bar. But there are many other activities, often involving the ladies and other family members. See Social Events for details of Cardiff Circle’s recent events and information on forthcoming events.  Second, we have a focus on young people. The Association raises money for its Bursary Fund to assist young people in carrying out development projects in less privileged parts of the world.

Catenian values are encapsulated in three key words.

  • The first is FAITH, which of course is central to the Association. At the time of your enrolment, and throughout your membership you must be a practising Catholic.
  • Catenians place huge importance on FAMILY life, not only our own but the wider Catenian family. Wives and other members of the family are regularly involved in our activities.
  • The third of these is FRIENDSHIP, which is the cement upon which the whole Association is based.

There is perhaps a fourth which is just as important, FUN. When Catenians and their families get together, it is almost impossible not to have good time.

If you have found something of interest to you please see the Membership Page for details of members to contact who will be pleased to answer any questions you may have. It is very difficult sometimes to explain what Catenianism is and it is much easier to see it in action.