The Circle Meeting – What Happens

What Happens at Catenian Meetings?


This is a frequently asked question by prospective new members to the Catenian Association.  This is why after a minimum of two visits to the social which follows a Circle Meeting (Post Circle), you will normally be invited to a Circle meeting and see and hear what goes on for yourself. Having once attended a Circle meeting you will be invited to attend further meetings until you decide to join the Association or otherwise.

The meeting is structured and will normally last around 45 minutes. There is a little ritual involved and you have to remember we are over 100 years old as an Association so the meeting is a part of the tradition.  That being said the format of meetings does change over time as members of the Association feel it is required.  As more new members join over time the meeting will change with the times.

Circle Meeting Layout Link- Layout.pptx

Every Circle in the Association uses the same format so no matter where ever you go in the world if there is a Catenian Circle they will follow the same format as a rule, albeit there may some local tradition embodied in it, or adopt a more casual approach to proceedings. Any Brother of the Association can attend any Circle meeting anywhere in the World.

During the meeting the President (wears a Yellow and White Collar with a pendant) controls all proceedings.  He alone invites Brothers participation and decides the duration of input.  Arguments are not allowed.  A brother may wish to speak during a meeting, make an observation or give advice.  To do so he must stand to get the presidents attention.  The President will acknowledge the request and invite the Brother to speak.  Only one brother can speak at a time and remain standing during the interjection.  By following this protocol we can ensure a meeting is conducted in an orderly manner.

The meeting Room is set out in a circular form.  At the four quadrants of the Circle you have a table and seated at these tables (clockwise) you have the President, Treasurer (wears a Green Collar and Pendant), Vice President (wears a Red Collar and Pendant) and Secretary (wears a Red and White Collar and Pendant).  To the left of the President between himself and the Treasurer is seated the Past Presidents of the Circle.  To the Presidents Right between himself and the Secretary are seated the Visitors.  The Circle Brothers occupy the seats on either side of the Vice President.

Prospective Members sit outside of the Circle nearest the room entrance.  They will be able to see all that takes place and be introduced with the Visitors. However unless invited to speak they do not participate except for prayers.

At the Entrance of the Circle Meeting Room is the table for the Registrar (wears a Dark Blue Sash).  All who attend the meeting sign the Register including Prospective members.  You will be given a name badge so everyone will be able to address you by name (and vice versa as all Brothers of the Circle will be wearing name badges).

The Circle Chamberlain (wears a Purple sash) is responsible for ensuring the room is set out properly and advises the President once the Register is signed by all present the meeting can start.  The Chamberlain is also responsible for making sure the meeting is not disturbed by outsiders. He will also escort participants to the President of other Officers as directed by the President.

If there are late arrivals, they can sign in with the registrar remaining outside the Circle. Following prayers the latecomers will be introduced by the registrar to the President.  The Chamberlain escorts the latecomers to their seats.

Meeting Format (Agenda)

  1. Opening of Circle.
  2. Enrolments into Circle (new members, if any).
  3. Transfers into Circle (a member wants to transfer from another Circle, if any).
  4. Prayers.
  5. Casual installation of an Officer (if any)
  6. Welcome to Visitors.
  7. Apologies for absence.
  8. Minutes of last meeting.
  9. Matters arising from minutes.
  10. Correspondence to Circle.
    1. Secretary including notices of visits to other Circles
    2. President.
    3. Reports from the Officers of the Circle (if any)
    4. Motions for discussion (if any), (notified in notice of meeting (Circular or bulletin, issued to all in advance).
    5. Election of Officers (if any)
    6. Any Other Business (any Brother of Circle can raise an issue or impart information)
    7. Close of meeting with Prayers.

Agenda items explained

Opening of Circle.  The President opens the meeting by striking a gavel and invites those present who are entitled to, to put on their insignia of office.  The insignia is a Coloured Collar or Sash.  Some Circles have chosen not to wear insignia.  It is useful for newer members to be able to identify who is who to aid this St Helens Brothers now wear name badges.  Prospective members are also given name badges.

Enrolments. If there are New Members to be enrolled or Brothers transferring in from other Circles a common format is used by all Circles.  It takes just a few minutes and during the process the new members have explained what is expected of them and they make a pledge, followed by signing the Circle Scroll.  All new members will have the process explained before the meeting and given a prompt card for their responses.  There is no need to remember any lines or rehearse beforehand.

Prayers. Every Circle begins the meeting proper with Prayers and there is a common framework all Circles tend to adopt.  Prayers are said for the Sick, the dying and the Dead.  Additionally bidding prayers are said on a range of needs, once again there is a common framework, to which each Circle can add additional prayers if they so wish.

Installations. Should any member of a Circle wish to stand for Office to serve the Circle they will advise the Secretary of that wish around December Time.  If there is more than one Candidate for a particular Office the Circle will vote on their preferred candidate.  In May each year we hold the Annual Installations of Officers using a common format.  Should any Officer decide to resign for whatever reason during their term of office they will be replaced by a volunteer for the next meeting if possible, this is called a Casual Installation.

Welcome to Visitors. The Circle President welcomes any Visitors (Brothers from other Circles, Invited Guests, Prospective new members) thanking them for joining us and wishing them a good time.  The President of the Circle remains seated throughout the meeting except when welcoming the visitors, enrolling new members or installing a new officer.

Apologies. All members of a Circle are expected to attend the monthly Circle meeting unless they have good reason not to.   A good reason will be a family commitment, illness, business commitment, a prior commitment, holiday, an important Social engagement etc.  Should a member not be able to attend it is expected that they inform the Circle Secretary of their absence and their reason for absence which the Secretary reads out.  Making a commitment to attend regularly keeps everyone in touch with each other.  If a brother does not attend and gives no apology, the Circle Secretary will assume there is a problem and ring the brother to check if he is ok or if there is a family problem etc.  This is just one way the Circle is able to look after each Brother and their families.  Following reading out of apologies, the Secretary will advise the Circle of the visits made by brothers of the Circle to other Circles.  Every Circle in the Province has a different Meeting Night enabling any Brother to attend any Other Circle Meeting / Post Circle Social.  If you decide to visit another Circle you will be expected to advise them beforehand if possible so the necessary dining arrangements can be made.

Minutes.  The Circle Secretary records the minutes of every meeting and issues them to every Brother of the Circle (Email of Paper mail).  Any Brother can advise the Circle of an error or omission.  Likewise should there be an issue surrounding a particular Minuted item this can be raised at the Circle meeting and subject to the Presidents discretion discussed there and then or at another agreed time.

Correspondence. The Secretary will read out any correspondence he receives addressed to the Circle.  He is duty bound to summarise where appropriate so as not to unduly delay the meeting.  Issues raised by the correspondence may be added to the agenda at A.O.B. if important and urgent.  Correspondence can be letters from outside bodies, charities, Schools, leaflets advising of fundraising requests, letters of thank you, request for help, and requests for prayers.  The Secretary provides a summary of correspondence in the minutes for reference.  The President may take the opportunity to advise the circle of his correspondence or deliver it when he makes his report.

Reports. Officers of the Circle can give a report at the Circle meeting if there is something important to report.  The reports can be just a few words or a short presentation.  Brothers of the Circle can respond to any report with a question or observation.  To raise an issue they must stand and in doing so with the permission of the President make the observation.  Unless there are issues of mobility through illness or otherwise whenever a Brother makes an input to a meeting he must remain standing.

Trophies. There are a number of Trophies awarded at each meeting mostly for visiting Brothers.  A special trophy is awarded to the Brother who has travelled the furthest (Warm Welcome Trophy – a miniature Whisky/Brandy)

Any Other Business. At this point in the meeting any Brother present can raise an issue, make an observation or request, if he wishes to do so.  The President will decide the order of input and decide on actions if required.  The President will refer some items for Council consideration.

Closing the Circle. The President Closes the Circle meeting with Prayers.


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