CCU LIFE (CZECH CATHOLIC UNION) HISTORY
Our Forefathers, people of Czech descent and newcomers in a strange land, joined to form an association of benevolent societies which offered spiritual as well as material security. Their deeprooted faith and desire for personal sanctification as well as love in their heart provided a natural framework for a fraternal group with concern for the bereaved. Their dedication to the Church coupled with their Czech tradition uniquely set them apart as a solid ethnically-oriented arm of the Church.
It was during the year 1879 that negotiations were started by the late Rev. Anthony Hynek of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Cleveland, Ohio and Mr. Emil Prucha from New York. St. Ann Society No. 1 was originally organized in 1867 as an Altar and Rosary Society at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Cleveland, Ohio. St. Ludmila Society No. 2 was organized in New York in 1871. It was these two societies that formed the organization and selected the name, Czech Roman Catholic Central Union of Women, under the patronage of St. Ann.
The first Convention of the organization was held in Cleveland Ohio in 1880 and the following officers were elected: Frantiska Stozicky, President, Cleveland, Ohio; Marie Houdek, Vice-President, Chicago, Illinois, Marie Kubicek, Secretary, Cleveland, Ohio; Emil Prucha, Financial Secretary, New York, New York; Antonie Manak, Treasurer, Cleveland, Ohio. The second Convention was held in Detroit, Michigan in 1881, with twelve societies being represented. Upon legal advice, the Union applied for and received the charter in 1899.
One of the main aims of the early Czech members was to preserve their cultural heritage. In addition to having a love for the land of our forefathers, the Czech Catholic Union is distinctly and intensely American. The Union and other Czech organizations were teachers of Americanism for a great mass of Czech immigrants. They acted as agencies giving Czech life stability and purpose and brought the poor and rich together in a fraternal group.
In 1938 a merger took place between the Czech Roman Catholic Central Union of Women, the Catholic Cleveland Union of Men and the Czech Catholic Union of Women . The new organization became the Czech Catholic Union. After an invitation to other groups was made through the media of Catholic newspapers, societies were organized in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Internal improvements, such as business-like modifications, efficient management, rewriting of new certificates and fair insurance rates were made. At the present time CCU Life/Czech Catholic Union is in strong financial condition. Our solvency is 118% as of 2019. Dividends have been paid to members since 1939.
CCU Life stands firmly as a supporter of the Catholic Church. Through the years, CCU Life has been strong among the Czech Catholics in the United States, drawing the faithful from city and country, holding them to the same path which their predecessors have passed on, the path of Christian living. CCU Life as a unit has always responded to every good cause; help the needy, assist the underprivileged, further Catholic Education and lend moral and financial support to worthy causes.
During World War II, the Czech Catholic Union purchased a bomber and the Cleveland Federated Societies purchased an ambulance (through war bonds) which was donated to the Red Cross. Our women members worked with the Red Cross making use of their talents.
Over the years, The Czech Catholic Union has supported the educating of students for the priesthood. Today we donate to Czech language schools, the Czech and Slovak Museum., multiple Catholic churches and high schools and two Benedictine Abbeys (St. Andrew Abbey in Cleveland, Ohio and St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois).
With confidence, we face the future that CCU Life will continue to adapt itself to the requirements of our modern times without sacrificing any of the principles of the Fraternalism upon which it was founded. It is the organization’s fraternal mission to take care of all our members through our many benefits and good deeds.