Joanne and Tom Peters have been in the Catholic bookstore business for 25 years. Yet the most important milestone in the business occurred recently.
With the blessing of Christ Cathedral, the Peters family is operating the new Christ Cathedral Gift Shop.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to offer beautiful books and other items about our faith,” says Joanne, who had quietly campaigned for the opportunity to open a store on the cathedral property since 2012 when the Diocese of Orange first purchased it.
“We are happy to have the opportunity to evangelize to people who come here from all over the country,” she adds. “There is no end to what we can do.”
Every year on the feast of the Immaculate Conception she would pen a letter to Bishop Kevin W. Vann on St. Joseph note cards, requesting that the diocese consider the Peters family when it was time to open a store on the site. Eventually, she received the visit from a diocesan representative asking if she was still interested. The answer was a resounding yes.
“The store requires a lot of energy,” she says. “It’s a blessing to meet the people who come inside, to see them enjoy the beautiful statues we have, and to see the books and Bibles they choose to buy.”
Located in the Cultural Center, the shop offers a wide array of merchandise, including a special section devoted to priests and sections for Spanish-language and Vietnamese goods.
“The Cathedral Store is of vital importance to Orange County Catholics because of the central role it will play in providing not only the religious goods we use on a daily basis in the dutiful exercise of our faith, but also in building our community through the use and awareness a storefront provides, and in assisting our goal of Christian evangelization,” says Monty Smith, sales associate.
Selling well right now are Bibles of all kinds, says Tom, including white Bibles, Bibles featuring the literal Douay Rheims translation, and Bibles in various languages. “Catholics are really reading the Bible these days.”
Designed in keeping with the Cultural Center’s white décor, the store has white walls that will soon feature religious artwork, white shelves, and a flowing layout.
The Peters are pleased with the variety and number of religious books they offer, noting that best-selling Catholic authors such as Scott Hahn – author (or editor) of more than 40 books, including several recent titles (“Joy to the World,” “Evangelizing Catholics,” “Angels and Saints,” and “Consuming the Word”), who recently hosted two events at Christ Cathedral – and Brant Pitre, Distinguished Research Professor of Scripture at The Augustine Institute.
While books are the store’s main focus, other sections are dedicated to the sacraments, including one for baptism that features various gifts for parents and babies, and another dedicated to confirmation, offering prayer books and other materials to guide adult Catholics.
A section devoted to Mary includes many different-sized and -styled statues of Our Lady, as well as prayer books, novenas, scholarly works about the Virgin, and a wide selection of rosaries.
Catholics devoted to the saints will find many books to guide their prayer lives. Religious medals with Jesus, St. Joseph, and Our Lady are joined by a huge number of medals cast in the image of saints.
Jewelry and gifts abound. At this time of year many items are available for new high school and college graduates. Wedding and anniversary gifts are offered, and there is a large selection of greeting cards.
Included in the store will be a modest amount of drinks, snacks and small meals offered by Sir Bruno Serato, who operates Caterina’s Club – which feeds 3,500 hungry children daily – and owns the newly rebuilt White House Restaurant in Anaheim.
Some of the best-selling items are coffee mugs, prayer cards, and other souvenirs visitors can pick up on their way home after touring the grounds, Tom says.
“The store is a great asset for all our visitors because there’s now a place where they can get something to remember their encounter with us,” Smith notes.
The Peters want to offer store hours that are convenient to visitors before, during and following the July 17 Dedication of Christ Cathedral. Presently the store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, but they are considering evening hours of operation as well.
“We are so excited for the Cathedral’s dedication because of the great milestone that will have been reached when it is finally completed and secondly, the influx of customers the store will have during its festivities,” Smith says.
“Having the store open before the dedication has been great for both the customers and us,” he continues. “I get so many comments from visitors and Cathedral staff throughout the day how they’re just overjoyed they finally have a store here. It’s very inspiring for all of us knowing we’re serving a real need for our faith community.”