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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Catenians herald new era at their annual conference
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¬†History was made at the weekend when the Catenian Association allowed a woman to attend their Millennium Annual Conference in Bournemouth. Traditionally, while ladies are most welcome to all social events run by the 92-year-old social and charitable organisation, the two hour meeting during the weekend get-together is strictly an all-male preserve. Wives go shopping or sightseeing while the men discuss business. Jo Siedlecka, from Independent Catholic News, was invited in her professional capacity as a journalist, national press officer Hilary Sutton explained to the 401 brothers present. The conference was a lively one with several proposals on the agenda raising heated discussions. Probably the most dramatic of these was the debate on proxy voting. Currently the 10,500 Catenians around the world can only vote at conference in person. This means that most members, including those who live abroad, in Australia, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, New Zealand or Malta, or those unable to travel for health reasons, never have their voice heard. "I feel like Emily Pankhurst," said the proposer, from Carlingford Circle 304. It was the fourth time the idea had been put forward at conference and many were bitterly opposed, claiming that any kind of proxy vote would be a threat to democracy. Others, however, felt it was the only democratic way forward. Joe Caruana, a Catenian for 18 years who had travelled all the way from Malta for the conference, probably swung the vote with his plea for change and the proposal was carried. Another controversial proposal was that the Catenians establish a younger section - something like the Young Rotarians - with a membership open to women as well as men. The idea was that, when they reached 45, the young members (just the men) might want to join the main organisation. While some welcomed the idea and felt it could provide a good meeting place for young Catholics, the majority objected, saying that having younger members separated was 'ageist' and would have a divisive effect. Another proposal called for a new rule that members deepen their religious practice in order to be a good example to the community. Supporting this view, one member from Bolton said he felt the Catenians should put forward a stronger moral and political message in order to attract young people. This proposal was also thrown out. Three further proposals were all voted in: one from Kingston Circle 141 that parish priests be sent the Association magazine; one recommending improving the standard of the regalia medallions; and one that members' professions and businesses be listed in the membership handbook. Members also heard a report on the Catenians Vocation Initiative. Circles are holding a number of vocations events, Masses and meetings around the country and have donated more than £20,000 in sponsorship for a series of publications. The meeting also officially introduced and vested the new Grand President Brian Hargreaves and Vice President Dick Jones, and said farewell to retiring Grand President Arthur McKivett. On the Friday evening Catenians and their wives had attended a civic reception hosted by the Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Jim Courtney. On Saturday, there were two dinner dances and a banquet as well as a number of smaller parties. On Sunday Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Bishop Couve de Murville at the Bournemouth Centre. Several Catenians said the conference weekend was one of the liveliest and most enjoyable they had ever attended.
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