by Kevin Walsh

I was an altar boy as a kid, and attended Catholic schools all the way from kindergarden to Grade 16, my last year at St. Francis College. And, I even got a valve transplant at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn in 2009.

Still: I have never been particularly religious, and never really ‘bought in.’ Paradoxically, though, I was infused with the symbolism and majesty. I still have a drawer-ful of prayerbooks and missals, as well as tomes of Catholic faith and instruction. Some of it still makes perfect sense to me. And, I really enjoyed the way the Catholic books were laid out and illustrated, with 4-color paintings here, and simple woodcuts there. There were large illuminated initial letters, as was done with medieval tomes like the Book of Kells.

When I was a boy, there was a shop on 5th Avenue  in Bay Ridge called the Catholic Shop where I spent a lot of allowance money on these beautiful books, and beautiful they were. Sadly, some of my favorites were lost to time, but I still have quite a few in a desk drawer.

An ancestor of the same shop is found on 79th Street, just east of 5th Avenue. I’d look in the window now and then but the place seemed mainly to deal in vestments, chausibles, sashes and chalices instead of books. I’ve seen a couple of recent photos of the place gated up like this.

I’ll have to stop by one day to see if it’s still open for business.

And I like that just the facts, ma’am stencil-lettered white and black sign.



Ed Greenberg September 7, 2012 - 8:07 am

Out on Long Island, in one of the malls, there was a store called “Long Island Catholic Supply.” They still seem to be in business in Roosevelt Field.

Joann F September 7, 2012 - 8:21 am

I went to a Catholic elementary school (St Emeric on the corner of E12th St and Ave D in Manhattan). These Catholic stores were scattered around years ago. Now the Catholic articles are usually relegated to a corner in the very back of the Christian book stores; and these are only books usually. I’ve since turned Southern Baptist so I’ve visited a number of these shops over the years.

By the way, so many of the schools and churches around the City have shut down, that might be a good topic for a future page. St Emeric by the way is no longer a school either. There have been rumors circulating about what the building is now used for by people who haven’t lived there in years. I heard it was a daycare center and later heard the diocese is using it for offices. The daycare center made sense since the classrooms were quite large. Class size when I attended was around 50 students.

Robert Mulero July 8, 2015 - 6:17 am

I also went to St Emeric School. Class of 1971.

chris September 7, 2012 - 9:55 pm

Har!A old nun at st.ignatius loyola(park and 84th st)tol us we could prettymuch get away with almost murder long as we wore our scappulas.What bogusity.As in things bogus

chris September 8, 2012 - 11:08 am

Hey!thats a good idea!
Do a FNY number on all the parochial and churches that have shut down around town

Roger_the_Shrubber September 9, 2012 - 6:38 pm

Doesn’t look like those gates have moved in a while with the weeds on them.

John Shea September 10, 2012 - 11:16 am

Barclay St in Manhattan was the locus of a number of Catholic shops. The nuns (Dominicans of Sparkill) used to refer to it with great reverence, sort of like a gambler speaking of Vegas.

sal magundi September 13, 2012 - 3:21 pm

“An ancestor of the same shop is found on 79th Street, just east of 5th Avenue.”

do you mean ‘descendant’? [/pedant]

“A old nun at st.ignatius loyola(park and 84th st)tol us we could prettymuch get away with almost murder long as we wore our scappulas.”

i have a hard time imagining any nun there saying that [/class of ’71]

Dan September 15, 2012 - 3:22 pm

I always wonder about these never-open storefronts. How do they pay the rent? Most likely the store owner also owns the building.

april April 1, 2013 - 1:40 am

My ex had a triple bypass at St. Francis. Back in the late eighties, it was nearly impossible to get in as it was the jewel in the crown of cardiac care. My mother, sans medical help, arranged this near miracle when she recognized the name of the chief of staff: Dr. Wissoff. It was the same physician my grandmother had used some forty years before in the Bronx! My ex came through with flying colors and had all attending staff in stitches from his joking around. They were very sorry to see him go home just over a week later. (First day he climbed two flights of stairs and never needed anyone to do a thing for him.) I hope you received comparable care there Kevin.

Kevin Walsh April 1, 2013 - 5:11 pm

I was a slow healer and wasn’t the same for a year or so after the surgery (though I healed enough to be dismissed after 4 days), and I still have some weakness now and then, but it was something that had to be fixed, and I’m sure St Francis was as good a result as I could have expected.


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