MOODUS – The Catholic Book Store at My Father’s House opened its doors in September to provide Catholics in Southern New England with a new location to purchase an array of religious items from books, videos and CDs, to rosaries, statues and spiritual gifts.
“This is the Catholic Year of Faith; and books and tapes are an excellent way to evangelize,” said Father Bill McCarthy, MSA, director of My Father’s House retreat center.
“Also with Christmas coming, people should think about giving religious gifts to loved ones.”
The new location is the result of the official closing of the Catholic Book Store June 8 after serving Catholics in Hartford for 76 years.
For more than 50 years, Father Edward J. McLean served as executive director of the Catholic Book Store, which included the Catholic Lending Library. In a March 2010 article in The Catholic Transcript, Father McLean talked about the history of the store that opened in 1936 on Market Street next to the St. Anthony Parish rectory.
In 1960, it moved across the street to the location of the former St. Anthony School; and Father McLean became executive director and treasurer of the nonprofit corporation called the Catholic Lending Library of Hartford, Inc. Its mission was to promote Catholic literature, lectures, religious art and education, and especially knowledge of the Roman Catholic faith.
In 2010, when businesses downsized causing a drop in foot traffic and thus sales, the store moved to the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.
The next year, upon the retirement of Father McLean, Deacon Robert M. Pallotti, who serves at St. James Parish in Rocky Hill, was appointed executive director and treasurer of the nonprofit, charged with overseeing the story and lending library.
However, Deacon Pallotti said that the new store wasn’t profitable for several reasons.
“Internet purchasing makes it “easier to ‘click’ than come to a location,” he noted. Plus, the new location “didn’t have the traffic for impulse buying.” Even more significant, he observed, is that, “There’s a different generation of Catholics today. They’re identification with their faith is different than years ago.
“They get their information off the internet,” he said. And unlike generations of the past that freely displayed religious items throughout the house, “it’s not uncommon to walk into a Catholic home and not know it’s a Catholic household,” he said. “Today, people see things differently, and that’s one of the things impacting us.
My Father’s House, which has operated a gift shop for most of its nearly 30 years, was eager to acquire the merchandise and bookcases in order to continue serving Catholics who are looking for personal inspiration as well as tools for spreading the Word of God to others, Father McCarthy said.
The store at the retreat center, located in a new 525 sq. ft. space, offers books, videos, CDs, greetings cards, statues, crucifixes, rosaries, medals, calendars, and much more.
It will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, during weekend retreats and by request. Special orders can be arranged by calling Jackie Bousquet at (860) 873-1906.
There are other Catholic book stores and gift shops throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford.