The Catholic Shop celebrates 20 years of evangelization
Most visitors to The Catholic Shop in Madeira come with a defined purpose.
There are the fallen away Catholics who want to explore how to return to the Church; the non-Catholics searching for something more in their lives and looking to learn about Catholicism; and those with a serious illness or with a suffering relative exploring patron saints of cancer and other serious afflictions.
The doors of The Catholic Shop are an invitation to learn the faith, and they are celebrating 20 years of serving Cincinnati Catholics. The Catholic Shop – and other like businesses – is rooted in evangelization. They are all about promoting the faith.
“So very often, people come in and ask about a book for situations. Often times, it might be someone fallen away, and most of the time, I don’t hear back after they buy something,” said Dan Giroux, who has owned The Catholic Shop in the heart of Madeira with his wife, Jenn, since the day it opened. “But, I do hear back from enough people to show it makes a difference. That really lifts my heart up so high when you hear many positive stories about how this store helped people out there.
“We have people who come in looking at coming into the church they want a book. There’s one man who walked in the store 16 years ago looking for this thing called a rosary. That’s how he put it. Long story short, he entered the RCIA program at St. Gertrude (Parish), and now he is an ordained Dominican priest,” Giroux said.
“We don’t take any credit, of course. It’s God and the Holy Spirit and listening to the Holy Spirit, but it is a great grace to be present, to be able to help people out in our fair city. It’s not just Catholics, either. We get non-Catholics who are seeking what this Catholic faith is all about.
“People will come in and look around on their own. I have had many people ask about what I have about troubled marriages, and who would be the patron saint of this intention or that intention. Number one is the patron saint of cancer. We have prayer cards and statues for St. Peregrine, patron saint of cancer, and St. Agatha, patron saint of breast cancer. We sell healing cards — little tri-folds that have prayers and a (saint’s) medal inside.” The shop offers books, statuary, crucifixes and the traditional needs for sacraments from baptism, to first Communion, to confirmation and more.
“We opened on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was on purpose. Father James Sullivan consecrated our store and I asked him when to open. He said go for Dec. 8,” Giroux said.
“A lot of people know our biggest patron is St. Joseph, and that’s how I got the shop. My wife and I looked around for a couple of years throughout the city for a spot. Places were too expensive, in the wrong location. We were not finding anything.
“I said I’m going to the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montréal, Canada, the world’s largest shrine to St. Joseph. I went up there with the intention of pleading to St. Joseph, spending a day in prayer on Oct. 15, 1998. The day after I got back from Montréal, my wife saw the sign in the window where we are now.”
Jesuit Father Matt Gamber, associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati, was among the first to walk into the just-opened store two decades ago.
“We’ve been friends ever since,” Gamber said. “I was new to town and I popped in there the first day and made friends with the (Giroux) family, and we’ve been good friends for over 20 years. Lasting as a Catholic bookstore for 20 years is a pretty good time. It lasted this long and has done a good service to a lot of people over the years. Dan, himself, is like a priest without ordination. I go to visit and talk to him and he gives all kinds of good counsel and advice and people really trust him and (have) come to love him.
“We have to promote our Catholic businesses,” Father Gamber said. “It’s a totally lay initiative. He really hasn’t gotten a lot of attention over the years, but keeps trucking away.” The 20th anniversary will be spent in year-long celebration.
There will be 20 percent off sales. book signings and social media posts – “something new every day or something related to our shop throughout the year,” Giroux said.
Giroux said the plan is to continue to serve Catholic Cincinnati for the “indeterminate future.”
“It is more a gift to us to be able to help. It is a vocation, a ministry, a calling,” Giroux said. “It is more than a business, but you can’t deny that you have to pay bills and live. Alongside of that, it is an apostolate because it is a service. Everyone who comes in the front door, the back door, we greet with a big smile from me, my wife or Kathy Balbach, a 12-year employee. ‘How can we help you?’”
The Catholic Shop is at 7015 Miami Ave., Madeira OH. Their phone number is (513) 561-4333. For a map, click here