THE Catenian Association owes its origin to a challenge thrown out by Charles Louis Casartelli, Bishop of Saltord, in Lancashire.
The year was 1903, and Casartelli was conscious that his recent appointment was widely regarded as a disaster since he _was a scholar when what the diocese needed in its bishop was a builder of churches and schools.
However, it took little time to prove his critics wrong, for he was a man of extraordinary vision who believed in the laity in an age when the Church gave every appearance of being a strictly clerical preserve, so that bishops not only thought of themselves, but openly spoke of themselves, as "The Church."
In his first pastoral letter, Bishop Casartelli called on his people to emerge from their mental ghetto and realise that the long centuries of persecution were over. He urged them to become . full citizens: to recognise by philanthropic work their responsibilities to their neighbours and to participate fully in civic affairs and the life of the nation,
The pastoral caused a great stir because this was new thinking for that day. John
O'Donnell, a young stockbroker, called together a number of his friends to discuss how they might respond to their bishop's challenge.
In the event they formed the Catholic Federation of Salford, within which umbrella organisation were set up societies for teachers, trade unionists and other sections of the Catholic community.
Finally, in 1908, they founded an organisation specially for Catholic business and professional men which they called "The Chums."
The title was later changed at Casartelli'S suggestion to the Catenian Association after he had pointed to the catena or chain by which his pectoral cross was suspended and had commented that the new society was forming a golden chain of brotherhood throughout the land.
The association fosters a spirit of charity among its members, and its meetings are characterised by an easy friendship reminiscent of the remark made of the early Church: "See these Christians how they love one another,"
But true charity cannot be inward-looking :and Catenians are expected to take the spirit of Christ into their family and neighbourly relationships and to infuse with it the whole of their business or professional careers.
Circles are now established throughout Britain and overseas.
Catenians from any circle are welcome at the meetings of any other, so that the association truly forms a close community of friends inspired by common ideals and sustaining one another through the uncertainties of life.