By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published June 21, 2007
In addition to the liturgies, prayer, presentations and music, the lively crowds at the 2007 Eucharistic Congress found a variety of inviting and interesting Catholic gifts, books, clothing, music and services for purchase in the large exhibitors’ hall in the Georgia International Convention Center.
The congress each year features vendors with items and information for those interested in exploring their faith or broadcasting it via colorful T-shirts and other wares. In years’ past the vendors set up throughout the GICC, but this year found the 74 vendors congregated together in one large hall, perfect for browsing and talking with those offering unique items to enhance the faith.
Phillis Curry was in charge of the vendor area, her first year serving in this role.
“In my opinion, we provided a complete package,” she said. “The vendor area wasn’t just about selling but providing information on Catholic colleges, missions, religious organizations and orders.”
Among the many exhibitors there to explain and share their missions were the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America and the Rosary Army, along with representatives from various colleges and schools.
The display of goods and services in the room was impressive in its scope and quality. Local gift companies like Veritatus Splendor Books and Media had large displays of Catholic and other religious books, along with special items such as rosaries made of cloisonné beads by nuns in China, while others like Lumina Gifts, an Internet business established three years ago by owner Susan Vigil, make their own rosaries and jewelry, including a family rosary where the birthstones of each family member form the beads. Representatives from the local Mustard Seed Community, an organization that works to improve the economic, social and spiritual conditions of the communities in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa, were on hand to promote upcoming trips to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
Founder and publisher Stephanie Murphy of True Girl magazine came from Laporte, Ind., to display her newly introduced magazine at the congress. As the mother of four daughters and one son, she acted on her dream of starting a “Catholic teen magazine” to encourage girls 10 to 18 with positive values, establishing the publication with a colleague who is a high school teacher. The magazine is published six times each year and features hair, health, makeup and fashion advice among the ads for Catholic organizations and articles about prayer and teens working in service. “It’s growing,” said Murphy, noting that girls from all over can sign on to www.truegirlonline.com for more information. The magazine won an honorable mention for general excellence in magazines this year from the Catholic Press Association.
Jim DuBos, a St. Benedict’s parishioner, stood welcoming congress attendees in front of his display of “The Catholic Mass … Revealed” DVDs, books and CDs. His product examines the Mass in a multi-media format that includes original music, an explanatory booklet, and a complete visual experience of the Mass in a movie format. The “Mass … Revealed,” said DuBos, is a “reflection of my own conversion experience.” He established his nonprofit Catholic publishing company called Thy Kingdom Come, Inc., in 2006, giving a promise to God that he would “volunteer for one year” in an effort to bring his love of the Mass and of Christ to others, encouraging them in the faith.
In reflecting on the vendor area at this year’s congress, Curry said, “What was interesting to me is that some of the vendors really weren’t concerned with the sales of items at the congress but with getting their name out to the Catholics in our archdiocese. The vendors wanted to publicize their Web sites so that their consumers could find them year round.”
She added, “I was very moved by the friendships that have developed between a lot of the vendors with one another and the camaraderie that existed between them. One vendor exclaimed that she was excited to have seen friends and acquaintances from years ago at the congress.”