By Matthew Lau
For the past 41 years, the Catholic community of Western Australia has reaped the benefits of having a strong network of men supporting the Church, youth, and those less fortunate.
Originating in England in 1908, the Catenian Association is an international fraternity of almost 10,000 Catholic laymen, with more than 900 members in Australia.
The 13 circles in WA boast some 400 members alone, which Australian National President Ralph Fitzpatrick hopes will increase to more than 500 in the coming years.
“The association in WA is actively seeking new members, especially younger members. It seeks Catholic men who are committed to their faith, to their families, to those in need, and to each other,” he explains.
“Membership is by invitation and it is our goal to offer an invitation to each and every Catholic man.”
Mr Fitzpatrick – from All Saints Church, Greenwood Parish – makes a point of sending out a brochure of information to Parish Priests about who the Catenians are and how they contribute to Catholic society.
The Catenian Association WA is known for its ongoing support for chosen charities, for the development of young people, and for the two Perth-based seminaries.
“Our members are very active in their parishes with many being readers, commentators, extraordinary ministers, acolytes, members of parish councils, and finance committees as well as participating in the liturgy committees and other parish groups,” Mr Fitzpatrick elaborates.
The association provides a sociable and supportive environment for Catholic men to meet life’s challenges and strengthen their beliefs and moral values, while also providing support during times of stress and bereavement.
Mr Fitzpatrick explained to The eRecord that although it concentrates on providing men with opportunities to meet and build friendships with other men – partners and families participate in regular “ladies nights”, along with other social events and activities conducted regularly throughout the year.
The Catenians of WA provide significant financial support to Catholic youth through its Youth Support Fund – which over the past 10 years has made grants, scholarships, and bursaries amounting to over $75,000 available to more than 125 youngsters – helping them develop their faith and assisting others to pursue tertiary education.
In recent times, the association in WA formed the Catenian Charity, offering tax deduction to donors.
In 2017, it awarded an inaugural scholarship of $5000 per annum to a medical student at the University of Notre Dame Fremantle Campus; a second scholarship will be awarded later this year.
George Kazs, an ACT-based Catenian, recently became the first Australian elected to be Chairman of the Central Council of the Catenian Association.
Speaking at the commencement of his term of office, Mr Kazs said the challenges facing the Catenians in the 21st-century are similar to those faced by the wider Church.
“Discerning a Catenian response to Pope Francis’s first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelli Gaudium, led us to affirm that our mission is to contribute to the realisation of Christ’s mission by improving the spiritual and personal lives of Catholic laymen through faith-based friendship.
“It also set us on a path of renewal and openness to a deeper engagement with the Church and society,” Mr Kazs concluded.
For more information, visit: www.thecatenians.org.au or contact Ralph Fitzpatrick via email: RFitz@iinet.net.au or phone 0417 941 825.