The Gift Shop
The next stop on our tour is the Madonna House gift shop, where everything for sale is donated and all of the proceeds go to the poor. The gift shop has a wide variety of items, including antique glass, jewellery, china, silver, brass, Canadiana, religious articles, collectible sewing accessories and fabrics. Crafts made by Madonna House artists are also for sale, including pottery, paintings, candles, woodenware and items crafted from wool from our sheep. The gift shop was opened in 1964.
Early on, Catherine made the decision that the proceeds from the shop would only be used for the poor—especially those in the missions. Nothing would be used for the running of Madonna House in Combermere. Customers loved the fact that the money from their purchases was going to the missions. Some bring donations to one door and buy something at the other.
Begging is part of the spirit of Madonna House Apostolate and Catherine began begging for merchandise for the shop from friends and benefactors. As donations come in MH members who work in the shop endlessly sort, fix, polish, and restore them. They also make numerous crafts that are sold in the Shop.
How Donations Come
Most of the time we don’t know the story behind donated gifts, but once in a while we find notes tucked in the parcels which explain:
“Enclosed you’ll find a ring, the only valuable thing in my possession. I hope you can sell it for the poor. Please pray for me and my family and our heart-breaking troubles.”
“This cranberry-glass water jug is over 70 years old. We are happy to help the poor in this way.”
“I am feeling a very strong call to simplify my life and my surroundings. It feels good to divest myself of status symbols and conversation pieces.” (This person sent two diamond rings, one dinner ring, and two gold bracelets.)
“I hope my paintings sold well” (from the renowned Canadian artist William Kurelek).
Thank you Letters from Missionaries
Through our contacts with missionaries, spiritual bonds are formed between Madonna House members and numerous apostles to the poor in many parts of the world. The following is from a missionary in Haiti:
“Thank you for the funds raised in your Gift Shop in favor of people affected by the recent hurricane which destroyed our diocese. Famine followed from the crops being destroyed. How to feed 60,000 families every day? We promise you to act in the best interests of the poorest.”