Bureau of friendship is six years old
EVERY week of the year a Catholic marriage takes place through a meeting arranged by the Catholic Introductions Bureau.
Every day for the past six years an average of one man and two girls-more than 20 a week-have written to the bureau asking for an introduction.
And every day two introductions are arranged.
Is this a marriage bureau-the last resort of the desperate?
Not at all. The applicants are average Catholics lacking social opportunities but who hay c their religion sufficiently at heart to wish to avoid the dangers of mixed marriage.
It is now six years since the Catholic Introductions Bureau, with the r ea d y encouragement of Cardinal Griffin, started on its rather unfamiliar course.
By now 300 marriages have taken place-all "unmixed." Many of these might not have taken place but for the bureau. nor would there be the many children now growing up in the Faith.
And the next few weeks-perhaps the busiest season of engagements and weddings-will see another 10 wedding days.
Applicants have been of all ages. The youngest of the married couples were aged 24 and 19, the oldest, 70 and 61.
How it works
How does it work?
Speaking to the secretary this week, I was told of the very careful methods used to "pair" people-all, of course, with no absolute guarantee and with limited responsibility.
No references are required. People are accepted in good faith, A council of management with ecclesiastical advisers is available when needed.
Funds come from a small subscription-just enough to cover the cost of stationery, printing and advertising.
The bureau is a work of Catholic Action for the secretary and his
assistant, and is non-profit making.
A man or a girl may live either at home or in lodgings. At their church there is perhaps only a teenagers' club or a group for Trish dancing, in neither of which have they any interest,
An application is sent to the bureau for information. Back comes a letter explaining its work, asking for a recent photograph and a small subscription, and enclosing two forms.
The first for the confidential
guidance of the C.I.B. calls for name and address, details of education and employment, interests. temperament and appearance, and asks the applicant to give a rough idea of the type of person he or she would like te meet.
The second form-for submission to an "introduction"-gives most 9f the details again but omits the name and address.
What kind of pe o plc do other people want to meet?
What they want
Men and girls, says the secretary, all first need good character. Next, the men want good appearancelooks and dress. They are not concerned as to whether a girl can cook; that, they hope, will just "come."
The girls' second requirement is general bearing; appearance apparently comes last.
What are people's average interests?
The secretary told mc that girls prefer r ea d in g, music, dancing, theatre, cinema, sport, home, country (walking), cycling, arts, other hobbies, sciences, in that order.
The men mostly put sport first; then come reading, cinema, music, theatre, dancing, oth er hobbies, country, cycling, home, arts and, again lastly, sciences.
After much care and deliberation (no freak pairings are contemplated), the bureau next sends a girl's general details, with her picture, to a suitable "introduction"-all anonymously, of course.
If he decides he would like to correspond with her, the bureau then sends his particulars and picture to the girl. If she agrees, the man is given her name and writes her a first letter, care of the bureau. They are then connected and are off,
All don't succeed first time, of course, and anyone may "break off relations" and co me back for a second try, or a third, without additional subscription.
Although enquiries have been received by the bureau from as far away as Australia. New Zealand and South Africa, introductions can be arranged only in Great Britain and Ireland. They are near to each other as often as possible, but not in the same parish.
One-third of the applicants live in the Greater Lon don area. Then come part of the Midlands and Lancashire, followed by Yorkshire. The rest are fairly evenly distributed over the country.
In the homely atmosphere of a little office in Streatham many interviews are given at any time by appointment. The secretary has seen nearly 2,000 people in this way.
That emphasis on friendship and companionship in leisure so often leads to a companionship in the larger things of life, home and family, is an indication of its success.
Taking part only last Christmas in the correspondence which gave Toe CATHOLIC HERALD one of its largest "letter-page" controversies for years, the secretary of the bureau wrote :
"Catholic marriages, please God, are none the less made in Heaven for being the more obviously started on earth-by a third party in whatever form. We buckle on the spurs, not weave the wedding garments."
'First Guinea priests
The first two native priests of Spanish Guinea, Fr. Jose Esono and Fr. Alberto Maria Ndong, were ordained by Cardinal Fumasoni-Biondi, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, in Rome on Sunday.