Catenian Association

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The Catenian Association
Catenian Badge.jpg
Named afterCatena (Latin meaning chain)
MottoFloreat Catena
Founded atManchester
TypeCatholic fraternal society
Headquarters1 Park House, Station Square, Coventry, CV1 2FL Telephone: + 0247 622 4533
10,000 +
President - Catenian Association of Great Britain
Peter Rogers
Bernard Noakes
Main organ
Great Britain National Council
AffiliationsRoman Catholic Church

The Catenian Association is a Roman Catholic lay society with 10,000 members (known as "brothers") in a number of English-speaking countries.[1][2]


It was founded in Manchester in 1908, through the initiative of Bishop Louis Charles Casartelli, Bishop of Salford, to encourage Catholic professional and business men to associate for mutual self-help, and to develop social and family bonds. Bishop Casartelli had a particular emphasis on Catholic Action.


The Catenian Association has its headquarters in Coventry, in the centre of England, and has branches (known as "Circles") in the United Kingdom, Malta, Ireland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, India, Bangladesh, and the Holy Land. Great Britain National Council Officers administer the organisation centrally in Great Britain, with the GB National Council Secretary being the chief administrative officer.

In the countries where local Circles are few in number, there is an 'Area' administration system. In the United Kingdom and Australia, where the organisation is stronger, Circles are grouped into 'Provinces', with Provincial officers and administration - an example of which can be seen here:[4]. There are currently over 300 local Circles, grouped into 21 Provinces.[3]

Each local circle bears a name and number, the name being geographical, and the numbers being sequential in order of foundation. Each circle is led by a president, assisted by circle officers.[4] The previous president has the title "Immediate Past President" and holds a special status as such. Each Circle also has a "Provincial Councillor" as official representative to the Province.


Catenianism is based on the practice of perfect charity whence flows all that is noble in men. The brothers strive to help one another as far as they can to happiness and prosperity, and should a brother suffer misfortune their concern is to aid him in full measure. Although a Catholic lay society, it has no political, ecumenical or theological objectives as an association, but is more an association of "Brothers" (as members are termed) who themselves are active in Catholic activities and building family bonds. [5]

The Catenians are a brotherhood of men who practise the Catholic faith, which guides all that they seek to do. They have pledged themselves to a bond of fraternal love which links them to each other. 'Catena' is Latin for a chain, and the title 'Catenians' exemplifies the continuity of the brotherhood throughout the world. [6]

The brothers are proudly Catholic and as a brotherhood are non-political. They do not allow quarrelling to mar their meetings, nor do they tolerate excesses in behaviour. The brothers seek to observe faithfully the obligations of life, to be charitable in judgment, forbearing in temper and slow to condemn. They strive, if husbands, to be loving and trustworthy; if fathers, mindful of the moral and material well-being of their children and dependants; as sons, dutiful and considerate; as friends, steadfast and true. Brothers and their families meet socially to provide opportunities for the development of friendship and mutual support. As men of honour the brothers pledge themselves to discharge in spirit and deed their obligations, to strive to strengthen the fraternal love which animates the Brotherhood, and to aid and comfort a brother in difficulty or need. In this endeavour they rely always on the help of God, and pray to Saints Peter and Paul, and to St Thomas More, for strength of purpose. [7] Catenians are particularly strong in their support for the widows of brothers.


The circles of the Catenian Association usually meet once a month for discussion and, in some circles, for dinner. There are a number of other social events, organised at local, provincial and national level.

The association supports charitable and other good works in a number of ways. It has two chief charitable funds of its own: a welfare fund ('The Benevolent Fund') for the support of its own members and their families, and a bursary fund ('The Bursary Fund')[8] offering financial help to young people volunteering to support others.[9] Bursaries are available to young people who undertake voluntary work in developing countries. Funds are also raised for a number of projects including providing clean water in Africa. At local level, Catenians are active in their parishes, supporting Parish Priests and fellow parishioners.[10]

Above all the Catenian Association seeks always to strengthen family life through friendship and faith.


The regalia worn by members is simple. Badges of office are worn by Circle Presidents and officers around the neck, suspended from collars of gold and white ribbon. There are equivalent badges for Provincial officers and national officers. Breast jewels are optionally worn by members on formal occasions, suspended from coloured ribbons, on the breast of the jacket, to indicate membership, long service, and past participation in conferences and structures of the organisation. Regalia sashes are also worn. Regalia has been simplified in modern times, from its more complex origins and a number of Circles have ceased to use them or limit regalia at meetings to the Circle President and any visitors who qualify.


Periodically, concerns have been raised about the secretive nature of the Catenian Association, and of its relatively unknown ceremonials and secret oaths. It has been alleged that the organisation supports improper or illegal activity, for the promotion of the interests of its members.[11] The Catenian Association has strongly denied all such allegations, citing poor publicity rather than deliberate secrecy.

Within the Roman Catholic Church the Catenian Association has sometimes been criticised for a perceived middle-class exclusivity. This criticism was most famously voiced at the association's own annual conference in 1966 when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, David Cashman, challenged the membership to re-examine its aims and objectives, and criticised it for being "a section of the people of God dressed for dinner and dancing".[12]

In recent years the association has worked to overcome this perception, with relaxation of its regulations, increased scope for local Circles to admit a wider variety of members, and attempts to recruit from a range of social backgrounds. In May 2014, Grand President Bob Butler addressed the annual conference in Liverpool, referring to the 1908 founders of the association, and saying "They engaged with the world in which they lived. Surely, they would expect us to engage with the world in which we live?.....Some may be fearful, but I suggest that we have much to gain, and much to offer the Church by moving on."[13]


  1. ^ "information leaflet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-08-15. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-06-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Statistics on the official national website Archived 2015-08-10 at the Wayback Machine of the Catenians.
  4. ^ An example of the list of circle officers from Derby catenians. President, vice president, secretary, treasurer, membership officer, chamberlain, registrar, marshal and charity steward
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Bursary Fund, a UK-registered charity, [1]
  9. ^ The two funds are outlined [2].
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ See article Alarm over secret Catholic 'mason' group from The Independent newspaper, 26 September 1999.
  12. ^ See "Men, Masculinities and Religious Change in Twentieth-Century Britain", by Lucy Delap and Sue Morgan, published 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan, chapter 2, page 1.
  13. ^ Full text of the address available on-line here Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.

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