The Czech Catholic Union is rich in 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 deep-rooted faith and desire for personal sanctification as well as love in their hearts, 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. They had a sincere loyalty to the Holy Father, as well as a deep concern for the parish and parochial school system.
It was during the year 1878 that negotiations were started by the late Rev. Anthony Hynek of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Cleveland, 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. St. Ludmila Society No. 2 was organized in 1871, and it was these two societies that formed the organization and selected the name of Czech Roman Catholic Central Union of Women, under the patronage of St. Ann. The name was changed in 1938 to 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.
The first convention of the newly organized society 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 Czech Catholic Union applied for and received the charter in 1899.
One is impressed by the gradual development from a simple necessary charitable institution to the highly scientific insurance organization the Czech Catholic Union is today. From the recordings of the earliest convention, it was agreed that a benefit be established, and the members would pay 25 cents upon the death of a member. It was later decided to raise the benefit from $100 to $150, and gradually raising it at each convention. From the beginning the financial arrangement of the Union, as of hundreds of similar organizations were totally inadequate. Any change toward a full solvency of the organization was difficult since the members always opposed increasing the rates. In 1934, a distinct improvement of the Union’s finances was made, with rates being adjusted by competent actuaries.
Internal improvements, such as business-like modification and efficient management of the Union, rewriting of new certificates and fair insurance rates, settling certain odds and ends in the Union’s property and real estate were made. At the present time the financial standing of the Czech Catholic Union is as good and even better than the best insurance companies, and the rates just as reasonable. Our solvency is now 122% as of 2011.
The self-sacrificing efforts of the officers, resulted not only in effecting a sound financial concern, but also brought a merger of three independent Czech Catholic organizations. This consolidation was effected between the original Czech Roman Catholic Central Union of American Women, The Czech Catholic Cleveland Union of Men, and the Czech Catholic Union. How profitable the merger was, may be judged by the result that the Czech Catholic Union paid dividends to its members in the amount of $9,491,695.00 including 2001.
During the first year of the Union’s existence, lodges were organized for girls and young women, and these lodges were called “Panensky Spolky”. This group flourished until 1928 when a majority of these members were absorbed into the newly organized juvenile division, or into the regular women’s lodges where they purchased the regular adult insurance.
The Czech Catholic Union stood firmly as the champion supporter of the Catholic Church. Through the long years from its beginning the Union has been like a mother among the Czech Catholics in the United States, drawing faithful from city and country and holding them to the same path of Catholic duties which their predecessors have passed on, the true way of Catholic living.
The Czech Catholic Union as a unit has always responded to every appeal of support of a good worthy cause. During the Second World War, the Czech Catholic Union purchased a bomber, and the Cleveland Federated Societies purchased an ambulance, which was donated, to the Red Cross. Our women members worked with the Red Cross making use of their talents. We have adopted the Lisle Benedictines and fostered the educating of a student for the priesthood, donating to the Illinois Benedictine College Czech Library and St. Procopius Abbey. We have made contributions to help the needy and assisted the underprivileged. The Czech Catholic Union helps spread the Catholic Doctrine in every possible way, both by work and deed, and by donations to our Czech Catholic paper “Hlas Naroda” and our Czech schools. The Czech Catholic Union is proud to be affiliated with the Czecho-Slovak National Council of America and with the National Alliance of Czech Catholics.
The future of the Czech Catholic Union lies in the continuation of its efforts to participate in the various phases of Catholic Action. It is not the intention of the Union to fold its hands and rest in the recitation of its past achievements, but to continue its efforts to work, foster and spread true Catholic principles in the lives of its members, thereby setting an example of true Catholic Family living.