- start a bookstore called Our Lady of Grace
One night shortly after becoming Catholic I had that dream. It wasn’t complicated to interpret; I didn’t need counseling or a dream interpreter, just faith to believe that it was my calling. The part that needed interpretation was the name. My knowledge of the 2,000 year old traditions of the Catholic Church was very limited. My dear friend Susan told me I knew Our Lady of Grace long before joining the church; it’s a special name for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In the days that followed the dream would not go away; humanly speaking there was no way it would come to be. There was a small savings that was available, but far short of the $100,000 to make it all happen. I needed that savings to survive the state cut-back of the program I was teaching.
A friend was sent to me who had vast knowledge of bookstores and Catholic retailing; she came to mentor me on my journey. Celeste encouraged me to go to a trade show to get familiar with the retailing industry.
On the way to Chicago I had sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to buy $5,000 worth of books. However, thinking, this is an exploratory excursion not a buying spree. Besides, we have no store, very little money, and you’ve chosen someone who knows nothing about Catholicism. At the trade show I bought $2,500 worth of books and returned home somewhat sane; parting with all of my savings was not going to happen. Our pastor heard where I had gone and asked me if I had brought back the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Catechism, Father? What’s that? “Conny it’s the first time in 400 years the church has revised and reprinted her teachings.” Without advanced thinking on my part, $2,500 worth of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was promptly ordered. Selling books began out of the trunk of my car after week-end Masses.
A gentleman named Wally came into my life; he was the dentist of a successful business man who wanted to see a Catholic bookstore in town; Wally became the connector. In 1994 I walked out of Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor with 450 sq. ft. of store space, far better than the trunk of my car. At that time Domino’s was a typical gray corporate building off the beaten path, for a retail business to be established there seemed ludicrous to me. The location was hidden in what seemed like the catacombs. However, I remember leaving the building and the Lord saying, “I will bring the people.”
And He did!