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Circle History

Origins of The Catenian Association

It was back in early 1900’s when The Catenian Association was conceived and undoubtedly owes its existence to the vision of Bishop Casartelli, who became Bishop of Salford in 1903. At that time there were only one and a half million Catholics in England and Wales and they were still viewed with suspicion by many of the population. These Catholics were divided between the very rich, landed Catholic gentry and the very poor: especially the recent immigrant Irish who had arrived over the previous fifty years.

However there were signs of an emerging Catholic middle class, which was unsure of its place in society. Bishop Casartelli recognised this, and in October 1903 in his first Pastoral letter, “The Signs of the Times,” he called on Catholic laymen “to go forth to all the interests of the commonwealth of which we are part, going on to say that he wanted the laity to play their role…in matters social, municipal, philanthropic, educational, artistic, literary in which we may use the powers we enjoy”.

In 1906, a Liberal Government who pledged to abolish Voluntary (including Catholic) Schools was returned with a massive majority. In the Salford Diocese, Bishop Casartelli formed the Catholic Federation to fight this. Two years later in 1908, and with the active encouragement of the Bishop, a number of Federation's leading lights became the founder members of “The Chums Benevolent Association”, which two years later adopted its present title “The Catenian Association”. The name is taken from “Catena” the Latin for chain, each Circle being a link in the unbroken chain which is our logo.

The Catenian Association Today

One hundred years after its formation there are over 10,000 members in Great Britain, Ireland, Malta, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Australia and as recently as 2010, in Goa. They belong to one or more of approximately 300 Circles worldwide. As part of the process of extending the Association into new areas there are also a growing number of Groups comprising a smaller number of members than is required for Circle status.

The Circles are grouped into geographic Provinces or Area Councils. Each Province has a representative known as a Director who serves on the Grand Council, which is the governing body of the Association. A Grand President (who is elected annually from those serving on Grand Council), Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer and three immediate past Grand Presidents complete the Grand Council.

Harrogate Circle’s Landmark Dates

1915 – 27th May The Harrogate Circle 29 was inaugurated.

1920 – In January, the first Annual Dinner was held at The Prospect Hotel at a total cost of ?19.10s.0d.

1926 – Harrogate hosted its first Annual Conference of the Association.

1939 – With WWII breaking out, the Circle was affected by members serving away in the Armed Forces.

1940 - Inter-Circle meetings were frowned upon because of petrol rationing but continuity prevailed.

1942 - Brothers could fulfil their obligation for President’s Sunday in their own churches.

1945 - Provincial Council proposed Harrogate and York should amalgamate because of low membership.

1952 - A Grand Carnival Ball was held that attracted 140 from Leeds and 70 from Harrogate Circles.

1965 – At The Golden Jubilee Meeting, founder member Brother Alderson read the inaugural minutes.

1966 – A monthly Sick Visitors’ Report rota for visiting Catenians in the Harrogate area was introduced.

1966 - Harrogate Circle Challenge Cup was donated Brother Ted Tindall to encourage inter-Circle visits.

1972 - The Sick Visitors’ Report became Family Report to highlight our care is not limited to Brothers.

1973 – The cost of hosting visiting Presidents and their wives was relinquished by the Circle President.

1975 – In May the Diamond Jubilee of the Circle was celebrated with a Mass at St. Robert’s Church.

1975 – The Rex Kirk Quiz competition was introduced and won by Harrogate, and again in 1978.

1975 – Harrogate once again hosted the Association’s Annual Conference.

1982 – Proposal to hold just a Provincial dinner dance organised by each Circle in turn was declined.

1983 – The Circle President was granted an honorarium to help defray some costs of his year in office.

1983 – Clergy Nights were declared a “ladies’ night,” the following year widows were included as guests.

1986 - A subversive band of Scots Brothers in the Circle announced their plans to hold a Burns Supper.

1988 – Decided the President and his partner should attend the Provincial Ball at The Circle’s expense.

1988 – Harrogate hosts its 7th Annual Conference; Yorkshireman Terry McManus is Grand President.

1988 – Brother Ted Tindall celebrated his golden jubilee as a Catenian in one Circle.

1989 – Safari Suppers moved from three host locations to one hotel location.

1989 - Circle received a legacy from the late Brother Louis Riley to defray the expenses of Dinner Dance.

1989 - By way of retaliation against the Scots, the “Tykes” in the Circle arranged a Yorkshire Evening.

1994 - Family Report was re-adopted when Brothers’ widows were formally included in our enquiries.

1994 – Safari Supper partners were parted, wives asked to make this arrangement permanent each year.

2003 – The Annual Conference is held at Harrogate for the 10th time hosted by The Circle.

2008 – Harrogate Circle along with all other Circles celebrates the Association’s Centenary.

2009 – Harrogate hosts its 11th Annual Conference; it will be its 5th in 21 years.

2011 - On the 15th January 2011, Harrogate Circle held its 1000th Meeting at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate.

2016 - The Centenary Year for The Harrogate Circle is celebrated with the attendance of the then current Bishop of Salford, Bishop John Arnold.

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