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On Friday 9 May, the Catholic Men’s Society celebrated its 160th anniversary.  Guest of Honour was Bishop John.  On Saturday 10 May, Fr Paddy Walsh offered a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Vincent’s Church, Sheffield.

CMS 160th Dinner s

The Society originated in Limerick in 1849 and was known as the ‘Young Men’s Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’.  The founding principle of the Society was the formation of men to serve the Church through prayer and good works.  The Society quickly spread across Ireland, and numerous parochial branches were established.

The Vincentian Order arrived in Sheffield to serve the needs of the growing Irish community in the Crofts.  In 1854, Very Rev Dean O’Brien arrived in Sheffield.  Using the example and charism of the Young Men’s Society in Ireland, he founded the first branch in England of the newly named Catholic Young Men’s Society at St Vincent’s, Solly Street.  The Catholic Young Men’s Society was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and like the Irish society, was committed to the formation and education of men; to encourage prayer and devotions and to foster good works.

The Catholic Young Men’s Society changed its name to the Catholic Men’s Society in the 1960’s and became known as the CMS.  This reflected the mood of the time and better reflected the age profile of many of the members.

Since 1854, a number of parochial branches have been established and a good number of these are still in existence today, not only here in Hallam but in Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool, Lancaster and Birmingham.  There are also a number of CMS branches in Scotland too.  The CMS still manages to attract new members even today and here in our own branch of St Vincent’s, another 4 Brothers were initiated at Easter.

The CMS is still primarily a parish based branch but like the church nationally, as parochial structures change, some branches are now being organised on a deanery basis.  As well as parish and deanery groups, there are regional or diocesan councils as well as a National Executive, who oversee the running and organisation of the CMS.  The Headquarters is based here in Sheffield at the Solly Street building.

The CMS has 4 important principles:

Regular attendance at Mass and particularly the Sodality Mass on First Fridays, where we encounter Christ and are nourished by him through word and sacrament.

Planned discussions where we look at important issues of the faith.  The Sheffield branch at St Vincent’s is organising a series of talks based on the encyclical of St John Paul II – the Mission of Redemption.

Retreats and days of recollection where, in a fast paced world, we can take a step away from the daily rituals and hustle of our lives to spend time in quiet reflection, prayer and contemplation.

Community service is one of the bedrocks of the Society today.  Charity work, fundraising, sick visiting as well as playing an active part in parish life are all ways in which the CMS remains relevant even 160 years after its foundation.  St Vincent’s CMS has a great history of raising money especially for Charities both at home and abroad.  The CMS actively supports the work of St Justin’s Society, the SVP Furniture Store as well as supporting the Church in China and South America.

Anyone interested in learning more about the CMS, joining the Sheffield branch or possibly establishing a branch in your own parish should contact Bro Anthony Fitzpatrick, CMS Diocesan President, on 0114 2332801 or by email cmssheffield@gmail.com.