One criticism of Calix, often expressed but completely erroneous, is that the society is divisive and that it is a “Catholic A.A.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Calix doesn’t attempt to sober anyone up. A drunk is not ready mentally or spiritually for Calix membership. As stated in the “Credo,” the society is “an association of Catholic alcoholics who are maintaining their sobriety through affiliation with and participation in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Accordingly, when approached to help someone still bogged down in alcohol, the first effort of a Calix member is to get the suffering man or woman into a detoxification center, a treatment facility or to an A.A. squad. When, and only when, the recovering person achieves some measure of sobriety is he or she ready for Calix.
While Calix recommends Twelve Step Program attendance to alcoholics, AA tradition six limits all endorsements of any organizations. In a letter to the Calix Society on May 15, 1962, Bill Wilson, one of the founders of A.A., wrote: “As you know I always have been personally partial to all persons or organizations whose good will and helpfulness to A.A. is beyond question. You need not have said that you strive to keep your efforts within the framework of the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. I know you have tried and have succeeded.” From an article by William J. Conroy, April, 1977, issue of “Columbia,” magazine of the Knights of Columbus, New Haven, Connecticut.
Although Calix is basically a lay organization, it has been demonstrated time and again that the success of an affiliated unit depends almost entirely on the zeal and dedication of a priest-chaplain. The society is fortunate in the number of priests it finds who are willing to provide leadership and spiritual guidance so important to Calix members and units. This is especially so if the chaplain is also a fellow recovering alcoholic. The chaplain should not be the only resource used for a speaker. All group members can be potential speakers. Retreats and a Day of Recollection should be scheduled annually, sponsored, perhaps, with a neighboring Calix unit. Some members may also be able to attend the annual International Convention.
An ideal Calix group is from 8 to 100 members for ‘speaker’ meetings. A ‘Conversational’ meeting style works better in smaller sub-groups of 8-12. Meeting topics should always be spiritual in nature. When an application is made for the establishment of a new Calix unit, the central office requires the group to obtain permission from the bishop of the diocese. This approval never has been denied.