What is the Calix Society

The Calix Society is an association of Catholic alcoholics who are maintaining their sobriety through affiliation with, and participation in, the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our first concern is to interest Catholics with an alcoholic problem in the virtue of total abstinence.

The Society was founded in 1947 in Minneapolis in the United States, by a group of 5 men, all recovering alcoholics, who saw their faith as a sure path to serenity without alcohol. 'Calix' is Latin for 'chalice', and these men accepted the idea that they were substituting 'the cup that sanctifies for the cup that stupifies'. After the society's formal organisation in 1949, growth was slow, but it came. As the aims of the society became known, affiliated units were established in 70 cities in the United States. Later units sprang up in Canada and Great Britain. The purpose of the founders of Calix was to use the resources of the Church to aid them as alcoholics to work towards sanctification. Calix gathers its members together as Catholics, on common spiritual ground, with their common problem and their common aspirations, to seek guidance in practical daily living.

A.A. itself provides a spiritual programme. It advocates recourse to a 'Higher Power', but A.A. itself is necessarily non-denominational. The ultimate goal of Calix is to lead members back to the rich sacramental life of the Catholic Church for it is in the Eucharist that we truly meet our 'Higher Power'.

Calix is sometimes criticised as being divisive and as being the 'Catholic A.A.' but such criticism is inaccurate and unfair. Firstly, unlike A.A. Calix doesn't attempt to sober anyone up. When anyone who is still drinking alcohol approaches Calix the first effort of a Calix member is to get the suffering man or woman into a detoxification centre, a treatment facility or to an A.A. group. A drunk is not ready mentally or spiritually for Calix membership. When, and only when, the recovering person achieves some measure of sobriety is he or she ready for Calix.

Secondly, instead of wanting to provide a Catholic alternative to A.A. for recovering alcoholics, Calix seeks only to provide a complementary and supplementary resource for Catholics, to help them make connections between what they receive from A.A. and the faith and practice of the Church. As is made clear in the 'Credo' members of Calix seek to maintain their sobriety through afflliation with, and participation in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.