Holiday Gift Ideas

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

With Christmas less than three weeks away, gift ideas abound at church gift shops and ministries throughout Holy Name and other Franciscan communities. Music, books, candles, pottery, food items and even wine bottle covers resembling friar habits offer unique holiday gift ideas.

Two Province ministries also recently announced the releases of new CDs.

In Boston, St. Anthony Shrine is selling “Songs of Workshop and Praise, Vol. 2.” by the Arch Street Band. Sales of the CD, available by calling the shrine’s front desk (617-542-6448) will benefit its 22 ministries.

In South Carolina, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville is selling a CD of Christmas music performed by the church choir. According to the Nov. 27 bulletin, proceeds from the sales of the $10 CDs will go to the St. Anthony of Padua Scholarship Fund.

At Clemson University, gift items are offered through Ye Little Olde Friars Shoppe, whose proceeds benefit student service projects in Guatemala. John McDowell, OFM, director of St. Andrew Campus Ministry, initiated this project.

The items sold include pottery, wine bottle habits, soaps and candles provided by a former staff member of University of Georgia where Jack previously worked. The “Monastery Mustard,” sold by the Benedictine Sisters in Oregon, and Franciscan wine bottle covers are popular, Jack said.

Orders can be placed by calling the campus ministry office at Clemson (864-654-7804) OR by emailing Jack (

A variety of books is being sold by St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the lobby of its parish house at 135 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001.

Many other publications and items related to Franciscan themes are available in gift shops at HNP ministries. Information on items can be obtained through the websites of the stores at Sacred Heart Church in Tampa, Fla., St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., and St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J.

Items from Franciscan Communities 
In addition, the Poor Little Franciscan Sisters have recently released a CD and prayer booklet called “Come Pray with Us — Prayer Songs, Poems.” The project features music compositions played on Native American flutes and color photographs.

Franciscan Institute Publications at St. Bonaventure University is offering a pre-Christmas sale on all titles, including its most recent publications. Half-price books are listed under Holiday Specials and “all of our titles are offered at a generous 30 percent discount,” noted an email announcement.

One of the books being sold is the recently published history of St. Bonaventure University, The Good Journey. The book, written by SBU professor Edward Eckert, describes the 153-year history of the Allegany, N.Y., university through photos and text.

In Sybertsville, Pa., not far from Harrisburg, the Holy Dormition Byzantine Monastery, affiliated with Assumption BVM Province, sells books and other religious items in its gift shop.

Donations to Charity Organizations
For those who prefer substituting a physical item with a gift to a charity or service organization, Rebecca Doel of the HNP Communications Office recommends considering Heifer International, a 67-year-old organization. Through this organization, one can give an animal and help enable a needy family to better provide for itself. According to the website, interested people can “choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.”

Gifts range from $10 (for a share of an animal) up to $850 (for a camel).

Several Heifer locations are fairly near Provincial ministries, Doel said, citing the Heifer Learning Center at Overlook Farm in Massachusetts and Shepherd’s Spring, just over an hour from Washington, D.C., in Sharpsburg, Md.

Other organizations that might be considered for holiday gifts include those affiliated with the Province such as Franciscan Mission Service, St. Francis Inn Ministries American Cancer Society, whose New York headquarters is located adjacent to the Provincial Office, and the Father Cassian A. Miles, OFM, Jubilee Scholarship Fund through Mychal’s Message.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

Editors’ note: The HNP Communications Office is interested in places where unique Franciscan items or Christmas gifts can be purchased. The staff welcomes newsletter readers to post suggestions on the Province’s Facebook page.