A Word From The “New Guy On The Block”

While I’ve never lived with the thought that I am defined by my career, I have always been blessed to be in a position I am proud to hold. I see work as a means to support my family, but I also see my work as an avenue to serve the Lord. If you’re able to do something you love that’s just icing on the cake.

I’ve spent the last 10 years of my professional career writing for local newspapers in my hometown community. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to share stories of great moments that impact people’s lives. I decided to make a professional shift in order to get hours that are closer matched to my family’s in hopes to spending more time as a husband and father.

Living in rural Missouri I never imagined that I’d be fortunate enough to step out of the newspaper gig and land in a similar position.  Finding myself at the Conception Abbey and The Printery House doing something just as fun – assisting in card development and marketing through graphic design – I have found that God truly does works in mysterious ways.

As a Christian I’ve always enjoyed touting that I am “spreading the good news” through my job as a reporter. While not every story was Christian-based, they were always positive in spirit and brought joy to the reader.  This stands in contrast to the news we have become accustomed to from things like TV and social media. I told my editors that I refused to be an “ambulance chaser” that reported on things like wrecks. While reporting in this way may increase readership, I never wanted to portray the worst experiences in someone’s life. I did unfortunately have to cover some big events in the community that had a negative impact, but with the caveat of how someone is making the best of the situation or used my platform to assist that individual through their hardship.

As I begin this new chapter in my career working at The Printery House, I can continue to boast that I help spread the good news, but this time it can be the Good News of our salvation through Christ. There is a joy and peace knowing that I am part of something that can have such a great impact in someone’s life.  My hope is that you will also feel that joy when you purchase something from us.

I look forward to working with you, our friends, and hope to hear from you all as I continue to work on stationery customization through graphic design here at The Printery House.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

What better way to see the goodness of the Lord than through the beauty of nature. Whether you have a vegetable garden, flower garden, or just a serene spot near a field or meadow, consider adding a bit of spiritual decoration to your space with our new garden gift items, including two new wind chimes, a planter pick, garden stone, and Irish solar angel. Don’t forget to share the blessings with friends and family, as these items make perfect birthday or special occasion gifts! Click here to shop our Home and Garden gift selections: www.printeryhouse.org

 

“For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those whose sake it is tilled, receives a blessing from God.” Hebrews 6:7

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Bringing the Gospel to Every Person and to Every Situation

“Evangelization is the mission of the Church to tell the world the truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ.” St. John Paul II said these words in November 2001, and in 2008, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J. echoed these words and defined evangelization as “bringing the Gospel to every person and to every situation.”

We as baptized Christians are to bring all people to Christ, to proclaim the good new of salvation to the whole world. This is easier said than done… we are taught at a young age to avoid talking about religion and politics in polite company. However, the mission of the monks at Conception Abbey and the work done here at The Printery House, is to bring that message to every person and to every situation. This does not mean that we are going to rub your nose in the Gospel, but rather bring you the good news of salvation through the beauty of art and the word of God.

The Printery House has a story to tell, and we are wanting to share our story with all of you. It is our hope that each week we will write on our blog things that are going on here at the Printery House. I have asked different members of our staff to take part in writing each week, so that you may get to hear different perspectives of what is going on and how we are proclaiming that good news.

This coming Sunday we celebrate the tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and we hear Jesus say: “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (MK3:35) In newspapers and on television across the country we hear of school shootings and shootings at different establishments, and the question that is on my mind is; “WHY?” Just after I joined the monastery someone asked me if I ever run out of things to pray for? I have been in the monastery for sixteen years, and I have not run out of things to pray for. The monks of Conception gather six times a day to pray, and before we begin, we are to cast our eyes across the world and pray for those most in need. This past year I have been doing a lot of praying over the question of: “WHY?” This has not diminished my hope, nor has it lead to depression. Rather it has strengthened my resolve as a monk. It has given me knowledge of a greater propose in the world and has shown me that God is truly at work in our lives. I don’t have an answer to “why” but I have discovered that I don’t need an answer to that question. If I truly see the person next to me as my brother, and sister, and mother, then I have no need for violence. We are all on a journey as we walk with our brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and we are to help each other grow in our relationship with one anther and with God.

Peace,

 

 

 

Fr. Guerric Letter O.S.B.

 

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A History of The Printery House

The Printery House began as a print shop serving the in-house printing needs of the Benedictine monastery and its school at Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri. At least as early as 1933 the monastery had a hand-fed bed press and in 1936 had a Babcock press. The first record we have of a monk assigned to the work was Fr. Alfred Meyer in 1935, who in the Latin fashion typical of Catholic institutions of the time was assigned as “Typographus” (type setter).  Fr. Malachy Riley held this position from 1939 to 1942.

The beginning of Conception Abbey’s publishing apostolate was probably the decision to publish Altar & Home, a modest monthly paper whose goal as part of the larger liturgical movement of the time was to help readers to bring the fruits of the Catholic liturgy into their homes in a practical way. Altar & Home was published from 1934 to 1960 and was largely the endeavor of the clericate. These young monks who were studying to become priests wrote the articles, created the artwork, prepared the mailings and did the bookkeeping.

In 1941 the print shop moved into the basement of a new addition to the carpenter shop at the Abbey. The publishing of a popular liturgical monthly for the home along with the ongoing desire to promote the Liturgical Movement spawned various other liturgy-oriented publications from time to time. A 1954 order form lists these publications: 1 book, 9 booklets, 4 leaflets, Altar Chart and antependia, Holy Week record, Stational Church map, and 3 assortments of stationery.

The Liturgical Movement quite aptly embraced the promotion of good liturgical music and art. This was reflected in Altar & Home Press undertaking to promote liturgical art in Christmas and other greeting cards. Under the leadership of Fr. Daniel Schuster from 1950 to 1956, Altar & Home began to publish liturgical and Christian greeting cards under the name Conception Abbey Press. One of the first artists of Conception Abbey cards was Sister Leonarda Longen of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD. In 1953 twenty Christmas cards were offered. In the fall of 1954 the offerings included 27 Christmas cards and 40 occasional greeting cards. The publishing of greeting cards was beginning to make a significant impact in determining the future direction of Conception Abbey Press.

In about 1954 the Press set up its offices and shipping department in a former parish hall just north of the Abbey church. The printing equipment remained in the addition to the carpenter shop. In 1957 Fr. Alphonse Sitzmann was appointed general manager. He would remain in that position until 1984.

From December 1960 to May 1963 Altar & Home was changed into a Liturgical Pocket Missal, a kind of missalette combined with a magazine section containing several liturgical articles. This was a joint project with Bernard Benziger and Frank Kacmarcik. The contents, editorial responsibility and some of the artwork were provided by Conception monks and the printing and marketing were the responsibility of Benziger. The format was smaller than the usual missalettes and designed to be put into the pocket and taken home. For whatever reason, the promise of the venture was not realized.

The purchase of a Harris offset press in 1962 initiated large-scale offset printing. As the years rolled by the publishing of liturgical materials declined and the publishing of Christian greeting cards increased until the latter became the major thrust of our offering. By 1964 the number of greeting cards had increased to 211.

The current building occupied by The Printery House was built in 1965. This building allowed the scattered operations of Conception Abbey Press to be consolidated under one roof and provided space for growth.

In 1966, Conception Abbey Press began offering products from the Terra Sancta Guild, the first products in our catalog not produced in-house. Argus posters followed in 1969, and Maria Laach products in 1976. During the same span, we also added equipment to augment our production capabilities, including a hot stamping Heidelberg foil press in 1966 and a 2-color Harris offset press in 1967. In 1968 we produced our first desk calendar.

In 1973 Conception Abbey Press changed its name to The Printery House to avoid confusion with Abbey Press, which was operated by St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. The first marketing material produced with the name “The Printery House” was in 1974. For a time, marketing materials were produced using both names, The Printery House and Conception Abbey Press. 1974 was also the year of our first wall calendar. The first wholesale Christmas catalog produced in 1974 with the name “The Printery House” included this introduction:

We, the Benedictine Monks of Conception Abbey, offer Christmas cards to a very particular sort of person. In choosing our designs and colors and texts, in printing and folding and boxing the cards, in packing and shipping, we keep this person in mind.

The person we have in mind is one who, first of all, realizes that Christmas is a Christian feast, a religious celebration. It is a day that demands a religious, Christian expression.

Next, this person is one who is a contemporary man; someone who wishes to express himself according to his time through an art that is simple, forceful and virile.

In this selection of Christmas cards we present to you designs by some of America’s outstanding religious artists so that you may be able to greet your friends and relatives in the most Christian way possible during this holy and sacred season—the age old message of the Christ Child, the hope of joy and peace, of love and goodness.

In 1981 The Printery House purchased its first computer, a Hewlett-Packard 3000 mainframe which filled a good-sized room. The following year we purchased a small Hamada offset press to handle one-color jobs, especially imprinting. In 1984, Br. Patrick Caveglia was appointed general manager. That year we offered 45 Christmas cards, 487 other greeting cards, and 10 Christmas postcards.

In 1988, the year we published our first Spanish-language Christmas cards, the number of greeting cards offered was 468. June of 1989 saw the arrival of a Solna 4-color sheet-fed offset press. Br. Michael Marcotte was appointed Assistant Art Director in the fall of 1992.

In 1995, The Printery House hired its first non-monk general manager, and also a non-monk marketing director. Br. Michael Marcotte was appointed Director of Pre-Press. That same year, we introduced our toll-free phone number for retail customers. In 1996 we introduced our line of contemporary icons. By 1997, all printing was done on offset presses. In 1998, the HP mainframe was replaced by a PC computer network. The following year, Br. Joseph Cecchetti was appointed Director of Pre-press, and Br. Michael Marcotte was appointed Art Director.

In March of 2000, the first Printery House website became operational, and Br. William Buchholz was appointed as general manager. Summer of 2001 saw the introduction of our first 5” x 7” everyday cards. In 2002 we discontinued the use of film in our Pre-press department, making all printing plates directly from computer. Christmas of 2003 marked the introduction of our first 5.5” x 8” Christmas cards.

In 2004, Fr. Peter Ullrich was appointed Director of the Printery House, and internet sales reached 25% of all orders. In 2007, we launched a separate website for wholesale accounts. That year, the number of cards offered was 543. That same year, we introduced the first icon by a Conception Abbey monk, the Divine Mercy by Fr. Pachomius Meade.

In 2008, The Printery House acquired its first digital press, a Hewlett-Packard Indigo. That same year, we started marketing via email. In June of 2013 Fr. Adam Ryan became general manager of The Printery House. Under his direction, the Printery House modernized and expanded its product line considerably. In 2014 we started offering images on acrylic blocks. In 2016 we sold our aging offset presses and replaced the Indigo with a Xerox digital press which includes a finisher. That same year Fr. Guerric Letter took over as general manager. In 2017 we purchased a Duplo automated cutting machine and a Thermotype foil press.

In 2018 we purchased an inserter which inserts cards into envelopes. Our database now includes well over 100,000 names of current and past customers. We send around 10 catalogs per year to various segments of our mailing list.

The mission of The Printery House is to proclaim the Gospel and share the Christian faith through the creation and distribution of printed products and contemporary religious art.

VIsit our website at www.printeryhouse.org to request a catalog or to order our products.

(prepared by Fr. Norbert Schappler, October 1988; updated August 2001 and May 2007. Edited and expanded by Br. David Wilding in April 2018.)

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