How To Start a Unit

Starting a Calix Unit – Jim B./ Secretary / Ed(revised 10-26-08)

  • You should aim to put together a core group of 5-6 people, which may include AA, Nar-Anon and Al Anon members. Often putting a notice in your church bulletin or better yet, getting an article or note in your diocesan newspaper can greatly aid awareness and recruitment. Remember, we are not AA, so if we don’t claim organizational (i.e. Calix Society) affiliation with AA (personal affiliation is another matter), we shouldn’t be in violation of AA traditions. Also, it’s extremely helpful if you can find a Spiritual Director or Chaplain (may or may not be a recovering alcoholic), who is a priest, deacon or sister to help you start and run the unit. Your pastor, bishop or fellow members may be able to help you identify someone.  We have pamphlets regarding the duties of the chaplain and for new units available from the Calix office.
  • Once you have a core group identified, you should hold a formation meeting. At the meeting you should decide where and when you will meet (most units meet once per month, and have the meeting around a Mass, that can be the usual parish Mass), who will be the officers (see paragraph below), who will be the unit contact for the Directory and how you want to conduct the meetings. Decisions are usually made by “group conscience” as in AA. Also, according to the Calix by-laws (available from the office), all unit members should join the Calix Society at a cost of $25 per annum. This entitles the member to the Chalice, our newsletter that is published bimonthly, and provides the funding for the office to function (office is staffed solely by volunteers). Once the unit is formed you should send a letter to the bishop asking permission to start the unit, a request we have never seen denied.
  • Please remember we are not “Catholic AA”. We ask that recovering members be members of AA or their appropriate 12-step program; we are a separate group that works in harmony with AA. As Bill W. stated in a letter to the society (copies available from the office), “This (Calix) presents no problem of A.A. Tradition at all. Of course they are (A.A. members are entitled to join Calix). Nothing is more certain about A.A. than that the principle of the individual’s freedom to practice the religion of his own choice. Our Tradition merely requests A.A. members not to link the A.A. name with other activities.”
  • As to how a meeting may be conducted we offer the following suggestions. Meetings can be run with a variety of formats. We in the St Paul Unit start with a general Mass that is held at 8am at the Cathedral of St. Paul. After Mass we convene in a room reserved for our unit. The unit meeting starts with a reading of the Calix Credo (found in the pamphlet, “A Word for the Problem Drinker and Program of Prayer”) followed by a prayer. We then serve a hot breakfast (nice but not required). After breakfast we have a short business meeting and pass “the basket” (we pay our own way like AA). We then either have a “Why Calix” speaker, or we will use a spiritual article for discussion; such an article is often one written by Fr. Francis Canavan, who was a writer for our newsletter the Chalice. The speaker is asked to center their remarks on how their spiritual growth has impacted their sobriety or their recovery in Al-Anon rather then a “drunkalogue”, more commonly heard at AA meetings. Obviously, some of their story may involve how the past drinking/using led to their surrender and subsequent growth. That’s what we mean by the term “Why Calix”. Other possibilities are to have a member be responsible for choosing a topic that combines a spiritual theme along with recovery that the group can center their individual opinions on, or your spiritual advisor may want to present something that the group could then discuss. The meeting should be concluded with prayer/prayers. We often read 2 or 3 prayers together from the pamphlet, “A Word for the Problem Drinker and Program of Prayer”.
  • Calix units commonly hold other special meetings such as Days of Recollection and retreats. Also, a Calix Convention for all units is hosted by the Cathedral Unit in St. Paul every other year and by another unit in the “off” years. We ask that all units try to have at least one member attend to consider business of the Society as well as elect the International Board and officers.   Calix Units normally will have the following list of officers:   President   Vice President   Treasurer   Secretary   Spiritual Director   These officers are not unlike what you would have in AA. Their only function is to fulfill the needs of the unit. Matters before the unit should be addressed by a “group conscience” as mentioned earlier. It may be helpful to establish a checking account in order to pay for the needs of the unit, e.g., rent, food, postage, literature, etc. Funds come from a “brown bag” collection like AA, although we do not have the 7th tradition restriction of AA, since we are not AA.
  • If, after reading this far, you are still interested there are a couple initial steps you can take to get started. First, become a member of Calix by going through the membership process (click on “membership” in the menu bar above). Second, use the “directory” and get in touch with Jim B at the Calix Headquarters either by phone or by email. Jim can provide additional information and put you in touch with others that can help you get started. Finally, go to the “forums” under the “resources” link (you need to be a member to get there) and go to the “New Unit Interest” category. There you can post where you are and that you are looking to start a unit. There may be “online only” members who are looking to join a unit that could support you in this endeavor.

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