Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

College Park

No Slowdown For Catholic Vendors, Ministries

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 18, 2009

The crowds at the Eucharistic Congress had plenty of vendors and ministries to visit where they could fill goodie bags and offer support.

There were hand-carved gifts from the Holy Land, Catholic marketing companies and a foundation spreading the word about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Catholic prelate who garnered an Emmy for his work in television.

Three members of the Varela family, of Houston, Texas, gave out prayer cards and flyers on behalf of the foundation promoting Archbishop Sheen’s cause for sainthood. The Illinois native has been declared a Servant of God.

“A lot of people know of him, but a lot of people don’t know he is up for canonization,” said Angela Varela.

She said many people tell stories about parents making their families watch the show “Life Is Worth Living.” It first aired in 1951. He remained on the air until 1968 when his show “The Fulton Sheen Program” ended.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, of Peoria, Ill., executive director of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, talks with a woman at his table. This was the foundation’s first appearance at the Eucharistic Congress. Photo By Michael Alexander

In his second year, he won the Emmy, even as the show aired opposite the popular entertainer Milton Berle. It is estimated some 30 million people watched the archbishop.

Hallways around the conference center were lined with displays of ministries and programs found within the archdiocese. Catholic Charities had prime real estate near the vendors, as did the Metropolitan Tribunal. Officials from schools answered questions from prospective parents, as students in school uniforms handed out flyers.

In the shopping area of the congress, Tim Wheeler talked up a new line of Catholic toys from Wee Believers. One of its popular items was the “My Mass Kit,” with a 12-piece plush toy set of items used in Mass, from a chalice and crucifix to foam hosts.

“If nothing else, it is a good toy. Instead of playing cops and robbers, you can start to get young boys to think about being priests,” he said.

Parents like how the toys fuel children’s imagination, he said. “The worst you could do is bean your brother with the thurible (the container used for incensing the altar),” he said.

Andy Nicolou, a parishioner of St. Theresa, Douglasville, helped people purchase religious items. “What a great place to come and sell some things,” he said.

The ceramic items are crafted in Colombia and hand-painted in villages, often by widows, he said.

Nicolou said he hadn’t seen any slowdown in sales because of economic concerns. Items are priced reasonably, so it isn’t expensive to shop, he said.

“It’s been great. I love to interact with all the people,” he said, before turning back to help folks buying a rosary.