Tag Archives: Pope Francis

A Look Back at 2013 With Pope Francis

Pope Francis 2Time magazine chose Pope Francis as its Man of the Year for 2013. The Pope edged out several other high-profile candidates, none of whom could match this one man’s widespread appeal. Looking back at 2013 with Pope Francis one cannot but feel a sense of renewed hope. So just what is it that makes Pope Francis so remarkable?

The Pope stands tall as a man of true conviction and action. The former Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires had long been known as a priest who ministered to the real needs of real people and none of that heart for service was left behind when Jorge Bergoglio ascended to the seat of St Peter in March 2013.

He is a Pope of several firsts. For starters, he is the first to assume the name of St Francis. St Francis of Assisi was a man who turned his back on family wealth in order to share the gospel with humble people. This saint and founder of an order that followed an austere, self-supporting lifestyle was wholly devoted to preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has chosen a name that effectively defines
his outlook on ministry.

To a world that seems jaded by the self-serving actions of the powerful, Pope Francis is like a breath of fresh air. A leader who believes in humble service and who exemplifies the message he preaches to others.

When he moved to the Vatican, Pope Francis astounded a watching world by refusing the palatial residence in favor of more humble apartments. He refused to be driven around in a luxurious (and safe) vehicle, but accepted instead a 1984 Renault. He chose as his first public celebrations, acts of servitude toward the lowly, washing the feet of prisoners, for example.

He is also the first non-European to be chosen as Pope in more than 1,000 years. The break with tradition which elected Pope Francis has been of monumental importance in terms of how the church and its leadership are perceived around the globe.

Though only in office since March of 2013, the Pope has shown a talent for handling the challenges facing the church without being sidetracked from its central mission. The Pope has not promised to abrogate church teaching or doctrine, but he has expressed willingness to dialogue. He is a leader who puts feet to his words and is ready to share words with those who feel excluded.

Pope Francis describes the church as a military field hospital – a place of comfort and healing for those crushed by the cruelties of life. And he expects those under him, including his flock, to be out on the streets begrimed from the work of meeting needs. This kind of servant-leadership is what a heart-sick world is looking for. A look at 2013 with Pope Francis is a look at how one true servant can upend a world of cynicism and despair. For pictures, prayer cards, bookmarks and other religious items commemorating the Pope, check out The Printery House.

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The Election of Pope Francis is Encouraging for Catholic Gift Stores

Pope Francis 1

Pope Francis Portrait in Gold Frame

Early August saw the 17th annual Catholic Marketing Network convention. The event is really a trade show where suppliers can showcase merchandise to buyers. It’s also a great place to witness trends within the Catholic community. This year’s show was brimming with enthusiasm for expanding inventory to include new items tailor-made for Catholic shoppers.

The convention was buzzing with opportunity. Many there were discussing how to reinvent Catholic gift stores with new items and new marketing strategies. The foundation of Catholic supply houses has long been the sale of devotional materials like books, icons and rosaries but the buzz on the convention floor was that this is a good time to expand inventory. A lot of the excitement about tapping into the Catholic sales market has to do with the church’s new pope, Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is a leader who has already managed to gain positive attention from the world press and many Catholics are energized by his outspoken yet loving leadership style. Pope Francis is clearly interested in reaching out to all Catholics including those currently outside the fold of the church. This rekindled enthusiasm among Catholics and belief that Francis will be effective in calling many to faith, is expected to translate into increased sales at Catholic gift stores.

Already, demand for Pope Francis-themed items has begun to soar. One of the largest suppliers of Catholic artwork reported devoting entire work weeks to producing wall art featuring the Pope, including at least one life-size cardboard cutout of the pontiff. Catholic gift stores will certainly be offering more greeting cards, Holy cards, bookmarks and other items highlighting Pope Francis. But most vendors agreed that it is time to start offering Catholic shoppers an even broader range of merchandise that celebrates their faith.

Of course, Catholic gift stores face some of the same challenges confronting all book retailers and faith merchandisers – a competitive market where consumers don’t necessarily need to shop at a specialty store to find what they want at the best price. Catholic retailers need only glance over at evangelical retailers to see how stiff the competition for customers can be. Evangelical bookstores are struggling to compete with online bookstores and giant discount stores that now carry some, though not all, of the same merchandise.

While mega-stores may carry some of the big name book titles and generic Christian gift items, Catholic stores can still be competitive if they revamp their marketing strategy to include items that promote the Catholic faith/brand. There is room for innovation and creativity in the current climate. The Pope has infused Catholics with renewed zeal and there will be demand for faith-centered merchandise if it is offered with a bit of savvy and a lot of excitement.

If you are looking for cards, gifts or books that celebrate your Catholic faith check out The Printery House. This Catholic purveyor of faith-centered gifts and supplies is run by the monks of Conception Abbey, and sales help to support the on-site seminary. Cards are made on-site at The Printery House using the artwork and lettering created by the monks themselves.

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