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Books remain
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placeholder July 13, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
Above, a collection of books by and about the last three popes. Left, Cathedral Shop administrator Michele Zaugg plans to pair Pope Francis' encyclical with "Canticle of the Sun" by St. Francis.

Books remain popular as Catholic stores
are in the spotlight

With the arrival on bookshelves of Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudate Sí" expected in the next few weeks, Catholic bookstores can expect a bump in business. The book is expected in stores Aug. 10, from U.S. publisher Ignatius Press in San Francisco.

But why wait? Adding to the anticipation is the first Catholic Store Month, with promotions at Catholic shops during July.

When "Laudate Sí" arrives, Cathedral Shop administrator Michele Zaugg plans to pair it with "Canticle of the Sun," a beautifully illustrated with mosaics picture book of St. Francis' famous prayer from which the encyclical takes its name, as well as "Care for Creation," a Franciscan guide to care of the earth.

Books by and about Pope Francis are popular in the shop, which is adjacent to the Cathedral of Christ the Light at Harrison and Grand streets in Oakland, and open seven days a week. The pope's "Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Every Day" a collection of his morning homilies delivered daily at St. Martha Chapel, was a popular ordination gift, Zaugg said.

Another popular title is "Fioretti — The Little Flowers of Pope Francis: Heartwarming Stories of the Gospel in Action," written by Andrea Tornielli, the writer of the pope's first biography in 2013.

German Cardinal Walter Casper's "Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life" has been an often-requested title.

The Cathedral Shop, which has a selection of religious gifts and seasonal selections, has been rearranged to feature books front and center at the front door. A welcoming display of Catholic books, children's classic literature and books by California authors and about California history and interests occupies prime real estate.


Step into Sagrada and feel welcomed. Inspirational music and kind hosts invite the visitor to take a break from the pace outside its door on Oakland's busy Telegraph Avenue.

"We do a lot of listening," said Mary Busby, who along with her husband Carlo owns the sacred arts store. "We feel honored that it is a sacred place, and a safe place for people to open up."

People who want to honor or remember a loved one often seek assistance from those good listeners.

"We get requests for remembrances for people who have died," Mary Busby said. "We hear people's stories, of who died, and what the relationship is."

The immediacy of music may be preferable to a book. She said she may recommend the music of the Threshold Choir.

In groups of two or three, the choirs, she said, bring their music to life's "threshold events," such as birth, and during hospice care.

"Music is so soothing and healing," she said. "It crosses all cultures." The choir's music represents all faiths; some of their songs are in Spanish.

Beautiful handmade paper cards, from the bereavement card gift compendium of Karen De Robinson, with a prayer, are an offering in lieu of flowers, Mary Busby said.

With the feast of St. Mary Magdalene approaching, there has been renewed interest in all things Magdalene, including the Magdalene Anointing Balm, used by chaplains, pastors and nurses, and made by Mary Busby's sister in New Mexico. "The Meaning of Mary Magdalene" by Cynthia Bourgeault is a popular book, Mary Busby said.

She is an artist in her own right, and has collaborated with Peggy Short to create images of the Black Madonna, representing many cultures, on collage cards. "They look like shrines," she said.

Handmade cards by printmaker Kristian Johnson Michielf also are carried by the store and don't spend much time on the shelves, Mary Busby said.

Busy Communion time

Holy Angels Books and Religious Articles started small. And grew. And grew.

"I started in my home for four years," said Angela Vitale, owner of the store on Second Street in Antioch. She ran the store while continuing to work full time, until venturing out to rent an empty store at Christmas.

That led to her to a permanent location. Later, she doubled the space. Her busiest time of the year is First Communion season, when shoppers come to buy from her extensive collection of dresses.

Books are also a mainstay at Holy Angels. Evangelist Jesse Romero's "Catholics Wake Up" has been popular after his recent visit to the area, Vitalie said.

Another popular Catholic author, Jeff Cavins, is coming soon to Church of the Good Shepherd in Pittsburg, Vitalie said, with shoppers looking for his books in advance of his visit.

Bible study, which meets at the store at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, is facilitated by a priest, Vitalie said. The Dominican laity, of which Vitalie is a member, meets there, studying a different book each season. Perhaps "Laudate Sí" will be on the fall reading list.

At 4,000 square feet, there's something for everyone in the store. "I have everything Catholic," Vitalie said. "Jewelry, wall plaques, books, clothing, vestments, vessels …"

And if you are looking for indoor or outdoor statuary, Vitalie has you covered.

"Any size you want," she said.

Monthly specials

Catholic publishers are offering specials during the month. Check with your local Catholic merchant to see what's in store.

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