It was with the greatest of pleasure that Brother President Alfonso Pacitti re-enrolled Brother Chris Greaney for the second time into Leamington Spa Circle at their November meeting after a gap of 30 years. During the last 50 years Chris had gone from being “Sir” to “Brother” to “Father” to now “Rev.Brother”, for Chris is a teacher who became a Catenian who became a priest and is now retired and has returned to the Catenian fold where he started.
Chris hails from the Wirral area originally and studied at both Durham and Exeter Universities before beginning a 25 year teaching career as an English teacher starting first in Cornwall then in Hampshire and finally at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. It was whilst teaching in Salisbury in 1975 that Chris first joined the Catenian Association. “As a young single man I was very grateful for the friendship and support I received from the Brothers there”, he recalls. But the private school he was teaching at closed and he was forced to seek employment elsewhere.
That career move brought him to Leamington Spa to take up the position of Deputy Head and Head of English as well as teaching some Religious Studies — a move that ultimately pushed him towards the priesthood, at Arnold Lodge School.
He recalls, “I did not know the area at all or anyone living there but my transfer to Leamington Spa Circle (160) was smooth and seamless and I was once again pleased to receive the immediate friendship and support and to join in the social life of the Circle which greatly facilitated my settlement in the town.”
It was while living in Leamington that Chris discerned the call to become a priest, which sadly in those far off days meant he had to leave the Association. “But I still like to think of myself as having a Catenian vocation too”, says Chris. When he left for the Beda College in Rome, the Leamington Brothers presented him with a book, “The Collegeville Commentaries on the Bible”, which he still uses and cherishes to this day.
After completing his studies in Rome, Chris returned to Leamington for his ordination at St Peter’s Church, and he recently celebrated his Silver Jubilee there in the same church. “It was really wonderful to have so many Catenians present in the congregation on both occasions from Salisbury and Leamington Circles.”
Subsequently, Fr Chris served in many parishes in the Birmingham Archdiocese, from Stoke to Oxford, to St Chad’s Cathedral and Stourport. “In the latter post I was very close to Kidderminster Circle and I was very pleased to meet up again with my old friend Brother Mike Sherrard with whom I used to serve Mass all those years ago, back in the ’60s.”
On retirement, Chris returned to settle in Leamington where he helps out in the parish and the local Deanery. “It also meant I could meet up with some old Catenian friends from my previous ‘incarnation’. Invitations to social events and meetings and a deal of encouragement have brought me back to the Circle and once again I can enjoy the friendship that goes with being a Catenian.”