We are a non-political international brotherhood of like-minded Catholic men
We meet socially, at least once a month and refer to each other as "brothers", reflecting the sharing of common values that are found within our Association. We also have a commitment to help each other in times of difficulty or need and to develop a bond of friendship. We are not a fundraising agent or Catholic action pressure group.
The City of Winchester Circle, number 163, was founded on the 6th November 1952. It currently has around 50 members and meets on the first Thursday of the month (except December) at 7.00pm, at the Royal Hotel in Winchester. The members are mainly from the parishes of Hampshire Downs (Alresford, Stockbridge and Winchester), and St. Swithun Wells, (Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh Fair Oak, Romsey, North Baddesley and Bishop’s Waltham. Winchester is bounded on one side by Basingstoke Circle (meets third Monday) and on the other by Southampton Circle (meets first Monday).
The meeting starts and ends with short prayers. Reports are heard from the circle's Secretary and Treasurer, Membership and Provincial Officers with the Welfare Officer reporting on the health of members unable to attend. The Vice President (the Circle’s social organiser) reports on forthcoming events and appraises events recently held. Everyone present, including Brothers visiting from other circles, is encouraged to participate as appropriate. When the formal aspect of the meeting is completed, the President invites contributions from anyone present, on any subject, "for the benefit of the Circle and our Brotherhood". With the meeting over everyone moves to the bar before sitting for dinner.
Dinner After Meetings
Winchester Circle is a "dining Circle", that is we enjoy dinner together immediately following our meeting. Everyone is encouraged to attend, however, every month some will be unable to attend the meeting whilst others will leave before dinner. Very occasionally brothers too late for the meeting will just attend dinner.
Dinner is generally three courses with table wine and coffee, with options available for vegetarian and other diets. After dinner it is customary for our President to speak on a subject of his choice. This varies considerably from year to year, reflecting the background and interests of the President of the day. Occasionaly there will be a guest speaker or a talk by a member or visitor - and always humorous repartee from someone! The evening normally concludes around 10.00pm.
Members are encouraged to visit other Circles in the area and, as Catenians, are free to attend any meeting held anywhere in the world - and contribute to those meetings. A visit to another Circle can pleasurably fill an evening. During his year of office the Circle President will make a visit to a different Circle each month accompanied with any members wishing to accompany him.
Wives and Families
As a social organisation all activities, other than meetings, include members’ wives. Ladies are also invited to attend some dinners after meetings, which are known as "Ladies Nights". As might be expected most members and their wives have developed lifelong friendships within the Association. Widows of deceased Catenians are invited to all social events and, if required, transport can be provided.
Social events are an important part of our Catenian life. Recent events have included guided tours to Blenheim Palace, Bletchley Park, Stourhead House and Gardens and the War Rooms and Churchill Museum in London and Winchester Cathedral. Theatre visits are very popular and most years the programme includes; Chichester’s Festival Theatre, the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, Mayflower Theatre in Southampton and the Theatre Royal here in Winchester. With a visit to Newbury Races, a monthly walk with a pub lunch, a Burns Night supper at a neighbouring Circle it all makes for a very comprehensive Social Calendar. There is also the occasional overseas trip, the most recent a visit to Vienna for the Christmas Markets.
There is no compulsion for anyone to participate and ample notice is always given.
Many Catenians have a prominent role in their local parishes and diocese, as well as major Catholic lay organisations. They are also active in the service of the Church and civic community both locally and nationally. We regard this as important, especially with the increasing need for the involvement of laity in the life of the Church.
Although the Association is not a charity, two charities are associated with it, the Catenian Association Benevolent and Children’s Fund and the Catenian Association Bursary Fund Limited. The former provides monetary assistance to members of the Catenian Association and their dependants, including dependants of deceased members of the Catenian Association, who are in need. The latter has been set up to encourage and assist Roman Catholics between the ages of 16 to 24 actively to involve themselves in projects for the benefit of the community, at home or abroad.
The Association is not involved in any other charitable work. However, it is common practice for individual Circle Presidents to promote their own charitable cause during their year in office. Chosen charities in recent years include, Prostate UK, CLIC Sargent, Emmaus UK, Make-a-Wish Foundation and Naomi House Children's Hospice.
Each month a magazine called Catena is mailed free to all members, in this country and overseas. It contains articles and photographs of Circle member’s activities and achievements and a very popular "Letters" page.
Once a year the Circle produces a calendar showing the main events and listing the officers, members and widows of deceased brothers and their telephone numbers. After each Circle meeting minutes of that meeting are sent to every member.