The Catenian Association has celebrated its centenary as a men’s association dedicated to strengthening family life by empowering Catholic men.
By Robert Hiini
OVER 190 Catenian "brothers", their wives and wives of deceased members turned out on September 25 at the Airforce Association Club, Bullcreek, to celebrate 100 years since they were founded in Manchester, England.
Distinguished guests included the association’s Grand President and global leader, David Taylor, a party of visiting English Cantenians, the Bishop of Bunbury, Gerald Houlohan and representatives of the Catholic Women’s League.
Attendees prayed for the Church, the nation and Pope Benedict XVI before listening to the thoughts and aspirations that their Grand President Mr Taylor has for their association.
The mission of the Catenians is to strengthen family life through the shared faith and friendship of men.
Since 1971, Perth men have been meeting in "circles" or groups, forging life long friendships and support networks, having been established here by English Catenian Cliff Holloway whose family migrated to WA.
The association was begun by a group of lay professionals in Manchester in 1908 at the behest of English Bishop Louis Charles Casartelli.
In an atmosphere of trenchant anti-Catholicism, Bishop Casartelli wished for an association that would help form upstanding men, in families and society.
Catenian circles have since spread throughout the world and are divided into larger "provinces" with the association’s global organising committee, the Grand Council, continuing to be based in the UK.
Gerry Barton, Director of Province 20 covering the Western half of Australia, says that the essence of the association is togetherness, where men with a shared outlook on life can get to know one another.
"We’re there for each other," Mr Barton said. "If someone’s sick, for example, there is an army of people who go and visit and pray for them."
The association is also involved in facilitating family get togethers with esteem and affection for their wives being evident amongst Catenians on the night of the dinner.
As well as a celebration of the past, the centenary has been a catalyst for the association to think about its future with the Grand Council set to meet in England in November to discuss the Catenian’s next hundred years. Expansion Officer John Monkhouse says that for province 20 the focus will be on maintaining the existing 12 circles and facilitating expansion, particularly south of Perth.
In his keynote address, Grand President David Taylor urged Catenians to let their fellow Catholics know what the association is all about. Mr Taylor singled out young men as the target audience that could most benefit from improved public awareness of the Catenians.
"We get young people by offering them something they haven’t got…a caring, loving atmosphere where we as Catholics can help each other when things are bad, when we suffer bereavement, sickness or job loss, there is always a Catenian there to help".
Mr Taylor said that members should not underestimate the wisdom they have to offer young men. "We have a mentoring job to do and we can use that to help young people back into the faith."
He also spoke to a common perception of men’s associations as being elitist and exclusionary, saying that the Catenians welcomed men from different cultures and a variety of occupations across the traditional white and blue-collar divide.
He spoke of his personal experience of the association, thanking his "brothers" for motivating him to live for others.
"You’ve taught me to be a better father, a better husband, a better Catholic. Instead of simply writing a cheque for charity I got involved, because of you."