Veritas' 20th Anniversary
On the occasion of the Gala Dinner of February 8, 2014, held at the Italian Cultural Center in Halifax to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Veritas Society, Lucian Bianchini offered the following considerations on the history of the Society.
"Hello everyone! It is my hope to tell you briefly the story of Veritas since the start. My comment is only one: let us lift our hearts to the Lord, who is making great things for Veritas.
We are going back to the last century, 1994. Thinking about that date during the past weeks, I realized that many other significant events occurred that year or around that time. Just a few days ago, the founder of Radio Maria died. He had dedicated his life to fostering the Catechism and devotion to Mary through a short-wave broadcasting channel. Around the same time, also in Toronto, the Ave Maria Center for Peace was founded, a distributing house for catechetical and devotional materials. In our Province, Ramona MacDonnell started a bookstore and baby-clothes center in Antigonish, which inspired her son, Tony, to offer the same idea to a prayer group in Halifax, which eventually gave rise to our bookstore. In Halifax, Our Lady’s School started. Then The John Paul II Media Center started, with Fr, James Mallon, and The Franciscans of Halifax with Fr. Roberto. Other important events include the launching of EWTN followed by Salt and Light TV. Without going on forever, I just want to mention 1994 as the year of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the most significant of all events.
Why all these projects, at about the same time? Some of us remember the decades of the seventies, eighties, and nineties of the last century. There was widespread dissenting in the Church, and there was also a widespread sadness among many faithful Catholics. The Holy Spirit, hovering over the Church, prompted, inspired, and called a large number of individuals and groups through whom within a few years, the open dissent devastating the Church, disappeared.
Veritas was born at that time, with the same objectives, the work of the Holy Spirit, even if we did not realized it. Initially, Veritas was only a means of supporting our prayer members and friends in their Faith. Without us realizing it, we became part of something big, something we did not even dream. The Lord was making us a tool for his plans.
The beginnings could not have been smaller, a little room in the Brewery Market. The only exposure was on Saturday morning when many people crowded the area for the Farmers’ Market. Sister Hilary was there then, 4 years old, red-headed, sitting on the floor while her mother was shopping, and going through all the picture books she could reach.
We were concerned even then, when rent was less that $500 a month, on how to survive. And we did not know, even then, that the Lord had bigger plans. Soon our lease expired, and we felt the need to try for greater exposure, which could solve our money concerns. We thought a larger exposure would be the solution to our problems. We did not consider closing. So next, the store moved to the lower level of the Maritime Center, near the Food Court. We stayed there for eight years. In fact most of our money concerns disappeared during that stay. Veritas began to grow; it became possible to make some small contributions to other charities poorer than us. It became possible also to save for a rainy day, which soon appeared, when we were told that the Maritime Center had other plans for our space and our lease would not be renewed.
Frantic search for new quarters, and panic, faced us, when our attention was drawn to the present location, Barrington Street. Our present location had been occupied by one of the most distinguished book stores in the city, the Book Room. The place had become vacant; it is most central, a few steps from St. Mary’s Basilica, with great windows for displays. It could not be better. But the first approach we made was ignored. We were told we could never afford it; it was not bread for our teeth. But then the landlord thought it over: the area in the vicinity of Blowers and Argyle Street was filling with pizza places and bars. The landlord would have preferred to lease to a more conservative trade. They came to talk to us. And, would you believe it, they asked us how much we could afford.
What an opportunity, one could say. Except that we were pressed by time to find a place, and that we were afraid we would lose an opportunity if our offer was not good enough. So we decided to offer three times as much as we were paying at the Maritime Center. Our offer was accepted. We knew it was below the rent paid previously by the Book Room, still for us it was a big risk, and we realized it immediately after the offer was accepted. Now it is about six years since our move to the present location, and for six years the cost of the monthly rent has been our constant cross.
Was it a good move? Sometimes these worries give the impression to us and to others, that we have become no more than merchants. This concern takes most of our attention. In our ample new location, something else has begun to happen. While we are troubled by daily trifles, while we are wondering if we have made a mistake, stories begin to emerge of people interested in the Catholic Faith who uses Veritas as a stepping stone on their journey to the Faith. Veritas is becoming a browsing home for many curious about the Catholic Church, and about God himself: questions like, “What is the Catholic Church really teaching, what really happened in history, to give the Catholic Church such a bad name?” Libraries perform a similar function for the general public on thousands of topics.
From the first days, when our goal was simply to help one another, to help the members of our prayer groups, to find confirmation of their faith, we have become a public information service. We have become something bigger without realizing it. You can see that someone else is using us, directing us. Here we are: a bookstore that is more than a bookstore: it’s open six days a week, it is staffed by volunteers who are not interested so much in making a sale as they are in helping visitors, and it is located in the center of town. Somebody has labeled Veritas as PUTTING CHRIST IN THE MARKET PLACE.
Sometimes, the changing technologies may give the impression that the bookstore approach to information is dated, that soon we may become outdated ourselves. Yet, our experience is that we are becoming a welcoming corner for thinking souls, planted downtown, and that all our worries are just the price to pay for bringing Christ to the Market place. Just a few doors from Veritas in Blowers Street, there is a newspaper store, where coffee is served and breakfast. Veritas may not be too far from serving cappuccino.
The Lord has other plans than ours. But we have discovered that the Lord also intervenes when the need is serious. This becomes very evident, for instance, when for some reason or other we are short of help, or when we lose volunteers. This happens frequently. Then, unexpectedly, someone shows up, offering to help if help is needed. Or, the volunteers bunch up and assume a greater share of their duties. Or, they search for new volunteers, with energy, imagination and dedication. You have seen the volunteers in action especially the last few days; usually their work is mostly hidden, unnoticed. If you live this situation, you know that there is Providence. We can even become too confident. In addition, Revenue Canada notified us then that we owed a large sum, the equivalent of three years of uncollected taxes.
I think that you should know who the volunteers running Veritas are. I would like to ask them to stand up, those who are active at present, and those of the past. Unfortunately, some, from Sackville and Enfield are not present.
I am about to end my speech. The last thing I want to say is that this celebration, twenty years, is more a preparation for the future that a memory of the past. Veritas must continue. Veritas’ role is not finished. Following last night’s address by Dr. Topping, I think that Veritas could be one cell of the new Catholic Culture. Veritas offers so many basic services: devotional support, intellectual resources, and gifts for all occasions. Let’s be frank: we all give gifts occasionally. There are no more lasting gifts than religious gifts. You never discard them. If we made it a point to use Veritas, to demand from Veritas, that gifts be available when we need them, Veritas is saved. And if we ask that our parishes make use of Veritas Church supplies, even if they are somewhat less convenient, Veritas will survive. A Catholic Culture is not necessarily cheap. This, together with some volunteering, is all that is needed. "
To view photos from the event, please click here.
Our latest newsletter for Fall is now available for you to read online, or download your own copy. Just go to the Newsletter page for our issues.
We have a created an ad for you to download and keep for store information. You can download it here.
Letter from Archbishop Mancini
Veritas Catholic Books and Gifts recently received a special letter from the Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth, Anthony Mancini acknowledging the hard work of Veritas volunteers. Please click here to read the letter.
A Partnership of Faith
by Nicole Myshak
It’s not often that a person gets to experience the embodiment of a feast day of the Church, however, the Nov. 1 grand opening of a branch location of Veritas Catholic Books and Gifts at Chalice’s head office in Lower Sackville, NS was one such occasion.
All Saints' Day, celebrated on the first of November, honours all known and unknown saints who lived out their love of God and others in a variety of ways during their earthly lives. Similarly, although Veritas and Chalice express unique works of mercy which meet the distinct needs of people locally and abroad, both ministries are motivated by their love for God and their common Catholic faith.
“I think we both have the same mission which is sharing Christ with the world,” says Chalice founder and president, Father Patrick Cosgrove. “We’re both servants in the Church. We both strive to serve the Body of Christ.”
While Father Cosgrove notes that Chalice accomplishes this mission by “serving the poor,” he stresses that there are “many kinds of poverty” including that of the spiritually hungry which the Veritas Society feeds through their very presence and the resources they offer.
“We’re all spiritually poor in some way,” he states. “We all have a poverty in spirit.”
Father Cosgrove affirms that it is “love of God” which compels people to serve. Accordingly he suggests that, besides providing others “an opportunity through which they can express their faith” by sponsoring those in need, Chalice is enabling an indirect ministry to the materially poor through this offer of office space to a Catholic bookstore. “Veritas seeks to deepen that faith,” he asserts.
“It’s an extension of our work,” continues Father Cosgrove. “We have a lot of partners around the world that reach out to the poor. This is one more partnership.”
Lucian Bianchini agrees.
The president of the Veritas Society acknowledges that “there are a thousand ways of serving the Lord” but they all have “the same inspiration.” “I think we are an example to one another,” he adds.
Bianchini sees in this newly forged partnership a witness to the possibility of charities working together for the good of each other’s ministries. “It will be a help for both of us,” he maintains.
Father Cosgrove concurs for he believes this cooperation will bring more people through the doors of both Chalice and Veritas. This will result in more exposure to, and a wider proclamation of, the truth of God’s love manifested in the outreach of the two organizations.
“It’s going to be a great blessing to us,” he smiles. “Already you can feel that blessing.”
Vandalism at the Store
Veritas Catholics Books and Gifts has been the subject of vandalism since moving to our new location. We would like you to read the letter Veritas has sent to the Archdiocese of Halifax addressing this issue. To read the letter, click here.
Thank you and we hope to see you soon!