Nearly 50 members of the Society and their guests attended the 2019 Autumn Reception in Archbishop’s House on Tuesday 12 November. The Chairman, Mary Goodwin, was delighted to welcome Mr Phil Brown, National President of The Catenian Association, as our guest speaker, and his wife Linda. She explained that she had known the work of The Catenians well for many years as a Catenian wife and is grateful to be kept in touch as a widow after her first husband had died.
Mr Brown explained the Catenians had been established in the early 20th century to enable the catholic laity to tackle the bigotry which existed at the time and support the aspirations and social needs of the catholic community. It is an international organisation with members in Great Britain, Australia, Africa, Ireland, Malta, India and Nazareth in the Holy Land.
As well as support for individuals through the Benevolent Fund, the Catenians provide youth bursaries for individuals to travel abroad for voluntary work and support the work of University Chaplaincies around the country. Their Flame conference attracted over 10,000 young people to Wembley Arena this year.
Membership was at its height in the late 1960s but has been declining recently, and his goal is to reverse this trend by ensuring that more people understand the good work the Association does. He wants to eliminate the perception of the Catenians as an elitist, secretive group – like Catholic Freemasons. The only criteria for membership these days is that someone should be over 18, and a practising catholic, and male – and that may change in the years to come.
The Chairman thanked Mr Brown and he answered questions. She then asked Cardinal Vincent to speak, in particular about the events in Rome around the canonisation of St John Henry Newman. He said the four days of celebration had been quite remarkable and full of sheer joy. He highlighted four aspects which had struck him particularly – Newman as theologian and scholar; as poet and hymn writer; as a public figure; and as a humble parish priest.
His Eminence thanked members for attending and for the ongoing support of the Society, which had covered some very necessary roof repairs, and decorating work completed by a social enterprise in Wembley, training young people to be craftsmen and entrepreneurs.