Back in 1908, in Manchester, Catholic men in Britain founded ‘The Chums Benevolent Association’.
Two years later, it renamed itself ‘The Catenian Association’ taking its name from the Latin ‘catena’ meaning 'chain'. A plaque in Barton Arcade, Manchester acknowledges the beginnings of the ‘Catenian Association’.
There are thousands of Catenians in the UK and abroad. We are in Ireland, Malta, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, India, Bangladesh and Hong Kong and our spread around the world continues. Local membership is organised in ‘Circles’. Our Catenian brotherhood (‘The Catenians’) is made up of Catholic business and professional men who meet socially. We help and encourage each other in the practise of our faith, the upbringing of our children and the development of our legitimate business interests. We are a social organisation. We are a non-political body and we are not a fund raising organisation or pressure group.
The aims of the Catenian Association when founded may today seem unambitious but at that time Catholics were treated with suspicion, stigmatised by some and were often socially isolated. Nonetheless, Catholics were beginning to emerge in growing numbers into business and the professions. The Catenian Association provided a framework which enabled Catholic men to draw strength from each other and overcome the difficult business and social environment for Catholics at that time. It was well received and grew rapidly, attracting and involving thousands of Catholic men and their wives and families in the UK and elsewhere around the world.
Today, Catholics are held in greater respect but Christianity is increasingly under threat in our secular society. Our Catenian brotherhood continues to provide an oasis where Catholic men, their wives and their families meet people who share values that are an integral part of each of their lives. The aims of our founding fathers may perhaps be even more relevant today.
Sussex Catenians meet together regularly in local groups called 'Circles' and with their wives and families at local social and formal gatherings. Many Circles have golf societies and other sports involvement. Together they play Squash, Badminton, Tennis, Cricket, Bowls, Darts, Golf, Bridge and much more. Locally, they hold quizzes, dances, go to theatres, cinemas, National Trust, attend wine, whisky and beer tastings, have weekends away and trips abroad. Sussex Catenians go to Mass as a group at least twice a year. Nationally, Catenians meet in great numbers for the Annual Conference and the National Golf Championship. Regionally, groups of Catenian Circles form a 'Province'. Circles in East & West Sussex (Sussex Catenians) is formally known as Province 18 of the Catenian Association.
Catenians promise to support fellow Catenians and their widows in good times and whenever they are sick or in trouble. When such trouble is of a financial nature, the Catenians have their own Benevolent Scheme that helps members, their wives or widows and children. Catenians also have a Bursary Scheme that provides funds to young people delivering qualifying charitable work anywhere around the world.
The Catenian Association does not overlap with other excellent Catholic bodies like the SVP, KSC, CAFOD or SERRA but many Catenians are members in these organisations. It is also not surprising that as a proudly Catholic body it has amongst its members Eucharistic Ministers, Readers, Organisers of Covenants and Bazaars, School Managers & Governors... indeed all the necessary jobs that go with running our Church. Our Catenian Association takes no credit for this but is proud that men of this quality find it so very relevant and attractive.
For more than a century, the Catenian Association has held its attraction and it will continue to succeed whilst committed Catholic men see the value in maintaining strong social friendships with their fellow Catholics. Sussex Catenians have been around pretty much from the beginning of the Catenian Association and together we continue to bring fun, friendship, faith and true fellowship into our Catholic communities.