AUCKLAND, New Zealand — When your business runs out of money and you need a miracle, who do you call? The Catholic Church, apparently.
Warwick Jordan is a New Zealander, the owner of the secondhand Hard to Find Bookshop — and not Catholic.
Several weeks ago, Jordan found himself strapped for cash. The building in which he kept his bookshop had been sold and bought by new owners, who were now asking for commercial rent, which was out of his budget.
He tried everything to raise the funds, including an online crowdsourcing page on “Give a Little.” Even though he was able to raise $27,000, it still wasn’t enough.
That’s when he decided to ask for a miracle.
“We’d bought books off Catholic priests and had bought a massive stash from St. Benedict’s at one stage. I wrote to the bishop and said, ‘I need a miracle. I understand the Catholic Church specializes in miracles — can you pull one out of the bag for me?’” Jordan told the New Zealand news site Newsroom.
“Bishop Pat (Dunn of Auckland) wrote back and said he’d put it before the property board, but a couple of weeks went by without hearing. ... We were looking at how we would wind up,” he added.
But his plea hadn’t fallen on deaf ears.
Bishop Dunn called him back and offered him a former home of Australia’s only saint, St. Mary MacKillop, who was a teacher dedicated to education.
Also known as St. Mary of the Cross, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She focused particularly on the education of poor children and established some of the first Catholic schools in Australia.
She began the order’s work with a school in a stable in the small town of Penola, Australia, in 1866. Before her death, many more educational institutions were established in isolated “bush” areas where hardship was common.
Today, the “Josephite” sisters are present across Australia and New Zealand and have extended their ministry to Ireland, Peru, East Timor, Scotland and Brazil.
“With its high ceilings, plaster domes, huge windows allowing light to flood in, and polished floor boards, it had all the character he was looking for. It was in poor condition, but had the rent to match,” Alexia Russell said of the home in her article for Newsroom.co.nz.
After getting a loan to cover the rest of the costs, Jordan reopened his shop June 15. He makes appropriate use of the space, too. The theology section is housed in what once was the chapel, along with extra information about St. Mary MacKillop.
“We wanted to honor her — we’re her guests; I think it’s appropriate. Her thing was about education and supporting knowledge to all people. She was a strong person who sorted people out. ... I love people with strong characters,” Jordan told Newsroom.
In the age of Amazon and charity bookshops, Jordan realizes that even the miraculous relocation isn’t enough to guarantee he won’t have financial troubles in the future.
“I’m the captain of the Titanic,” he said. “But I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
St. Mary MacKillop, pray for us!