St. Paul’s Bookstore to Return to Church Grounds

CANFIELD, Ohio — St. Paul’s Books and Gifts is coming home to Canfield and reopening on church ground after being in Boardman for a decade.

The store was moved to be in a more commercial area, but the price of rent drove it out, says Brother Marco Bulgarelli. He calls the move to Canfield a miracle that will allow the Society of St. Paul to continue its initiative of evangelizing through communication methods.

Instead of finding a new facility elsewhere, the society decided to move the bookstore back to the property of St. Paul’s Monastery, 9531 Akron Canfield Road. Bulgarelli says the move is not an act of retreat, but a permanent and thought-out decision that was possible due to the support of church volunteers.

“We had one month to move everything out, and they moved everything in one week, not one month,” he says, noting that some of the renovation costs, such as new flooring, were donated. “Little by little, we succeed. To me, this is a miracle. I’m a believer, of course, and I think that God wants us here.”

Members of the church started Friends of St. Paul, a group dedicated to serving the church with its time and resources. Members of the group will run the bookstore on a volunteer basis, along with Brother Dominic Calabro and Father Matthew Roehrig.

The church has owned the facility since 1944. The bookstore started around the same time and hopped between the main building and other buildings on campus before landing in Boardman in 2012.

Bulgarelli says the store sells books, along with other Catholic merchandise, but its goal isn’t to make money — it’s to connect the community with the church. Father James Alberione, the founder of the Society of St. Paul and its related institutes that form the Pauline Family, once said the bookstore reflects the whole of the institute.

“It is the point of contact between it and the people; it is the center of diffusions of all the initiatives of the Pauline apostolate. It is the publishing house of God,” he says. “The bookshop is a temple; the bookseller a preacher; light, holiness, joy in Jesus Christ and Christian life are the fruits sought. The counter is a pulpit of truth.”

Bulgarelli says that multimedia is an important part of the society’s mission to evangelize with the modern tools of communications and will “bring life as an example of creative faithfulness to the thought of our founder.”

The Canfield society started producing audio-visual materials began in 1968, and Alba House Communications was launched to produce and distribute cassettes, filmstrips, records and other communication materials. The department has over 500 back titles featuring leading theologians, scripture scholars and spiritual experts of the United States.

Bulgarelli says that Calabro worked for the Catholic Television Network of Youngstown. CTNY broadcasted Mass from the society, which fulfilled its mission of evangelizing through modern tools. CTNY closed its studio at the monastery and moved to Youngstown. Bringing the bookstore back to church soil will help bring apostolic activity back to the monastery.

“We didn’t have any more apostolic activity. We had to do something,” he says. “We have to show people that we’re alive and we have an activity.”

The grand reopening will take place on Aug. 20, the 108th anniversary of the founding of the Society of St. Paul. Rev. David J. Bonnar, bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, will celebrate Mass at 10:30 a.m. in the main chapel of the monastery, located at 9531 Akron-Canfield Road in Canfield. He will bless the new bookstore and all attendees immediately after. A picnic will follow in the park of the monastery.

The days of operation are still being debated, Bulgarelli says, but he expects it to be open on Saturdays and Sundays following the reopening.

He says the reopening would not be possible without the Friends of St. Paul and the Knights of Columbus, Council 11369. “Everything is done by volunteers, thank God. We are surrounded in this area by splendid people.”

Pictured: Brother Marco Bulgarelli of the Society of St. Paul stands in front of the building that will house the bookstore.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.