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Preserving Catholic Traditions for Tomorrow's Faithful

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How Catholic Home and Garden Began

I never intended to run a Catholic antiquities and book business. Not in a million years.

As a cradle Catholic, I grew up in a house that was filled with Catholic images and sacramentals not to mention an abundance of excellent books provided by family members who worked in publishing houses famous for their Catholic catalogues. The beautiful images and concepts presented in those books certainly had their effect in enhancing my identity as a Catholic.  

As the years passed, even in the midst of very un-Catholic settings, I became a repository for my friends' Catholic "found objects."

Eventually, I had a family of my own. We're a small family. There are just three of us. And two of us were born with the "junk collecting gene." Garage sales attracted us like a magnet. 

Eventually we discovered estate sales.  These are different from garage sales in that the owner of the home is usually deceased. More often than not, these are older people who have lived in their homes for many years, and sometimes for generations.

At one of these sales, I was rummaging through the basement and came across a pile of old "junk" that was literally in a dust pan. It included an old children's vellum covered missal from the 1940s, some rosaries, holy medals and several rolled up Papal blessings. Horrified, I "rescued" them and brought them home.

My husband, a convert to Catholicism -- and a product of an often-deficient post-Vatican II RCIA program, had no idea what this "stuff" was or why it was so important to me. Our son, who was about 8 years old at the time, also had limited exposure to older sacramentals with the exception of the mysterious objects at Grandma's house or his second home - the rectory of our parish. As I began to explain their meaning and the rich tradition and culture of our Catholic heritage.

A seed was planted.

Aside from the devotional aspect of our undertaking, the prospect of continuing to collect Catholic artifacts had enormous appeal for me as a trained sociologist. My hypotheses about where we were likely to find more of these items and what variations would be found within certain socio-economically distinct households captivated my interest and, I suppose, the "thrill of the chase." The notion of cataloging our finds soon became a reality. While you won't find all the specifics within these pages, I think you will find them at least a bit interesting in the limited form as presented.

That first "rescue" led to more frequent trips to estate sales specifically looking for Catholic artifacts.  Sadly, we found that heirs to these homes were generally more interested in making a profit on old furnishings and knick knacks than they were in preserving the Catholic traditions of their parents and grandparents. We found first class relics, Agnus Dei's and Mass kits that no one wanted. Our collection began to grow, presenting storage challenges in our tiny home. Soon, the professionals who held the sales got to know us and started to phone ahead when they were liquidating old Catholic estates.  Many of our Priest and religious friends, forced to clean out attics and basements, joined them.
Our "hobby" was starting to get expensive and we were nearly out of room even with additional shelves and storage bins in our garage.  Quite by chance, or, perhaps, by Divine design, a series of events paved the way to our present endeavor. We discovered a surprisingly large and lively community of traditional Catholics who loved these treasures as much as we did.  We began the process of learning to sell on the internet, beginning with eBay. 

It was a steep learning curve, and I had no hesitation in asking for advice from some of the Catholic sellers who had a presence on eBay.  Two in particular were especially generous with sharing their knowledge, and served as mentors.  My little business grew beyond a hobby and actually paid for our son's Catholic high school tuition. Soon, I was providing advice to others and before long Catholic Auction Apostolate was created to help unemployed, underemployed, disabled, widowed, or home schooling mothers in need of additional income. You'll find members' online shops on our "friends" page. Over the years since it first started, we have served as a sounding board for each other, helped to identify arcane items, and have also supported one another in times of trial and triumph.

I often wished that it would be possible to make a modest living by doing what I had come to love so much.  Soon that became a reality. 

I started to get referrals from Churches, institutions and orders who were in need of alternative fund raising options, and before long I was brokering deals on behalf of parishes that were about to close, and that wanted to be certain that the furnishings, statuary and vestments were placed appropriately.

Soon the spare bedroom was outfitted with floor to ceiling shelves and the formal Catholic Home and Garden began.

Over ten years have passed, but my passion for preserving the artifacts of our Catholic culture hasn't diminished. I will admit that from time to time I wanted to close shop and get a "real job" -- but then the phone would ring and there would be the estate of a deceased Priest or a group of nuns and I'd start all over again. It's not exactly a lucrative business, but it's one that I love, that provides a service, and the "coworkers" who line my shelves are the best! 

As Catholics, we must recapture our identity.

We have been losing ground as the secular, popular culture overtakes our lives, and even creeps into our Church and liturgy. Catholics must become centered in their faith, fostering a sense of community like the early Christians, where vocations are numerous and selflessness supersedes selfishness. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming a culture of empty souls, like those the children at Fatima saw in a vision - as numerous as snowflakes, falling into hell.

No doubt my husband and I will continue to search for Catholic artifacts to preserve and to share with you and future generations of the faithful.

Interested in tips on starting your own Catholic business?

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