Monday, June 01, 2020

UPDATED: Pauline Bookstore Chicago looting update and how you can help

Oops. I went to correct a tiny detail and almost lost the whole post. We continue to keep in our prayers all those whose losses are incalculable. Black lives matter.

Last week, the sisters were getting our Michigan Avenue bookstore ready for a grand re-opening after over two months of lockdown. The First Communion and Confirmation displays were set up, they had a plan for one-way traffic and social distancing...the works. Then, with just a few days to go,  well-organized forces of destruction (supported by some bored and directionless young adults?) overwhelmed the peaceful protest marches and the vital message that Black Lives Matter.

Naturally, those organizers fixed their sights on downtown Chicago.

At 3:00 AM on Pentecost morning the sisters heard the glass break.

Both of the automatic doors were shattered, and the front plate-glass display window. Because the bookstore had been closed for so many weeks, the cash drawers were closed. Ordinarily they are left open so that opportunistic thieves can help themselves without causing further damage. This time they broke through the counter.

And then the looters left.
Worst of all, though we assumed they would have stolen at least a few items (Bibles are the most-stolen book there is!), a quick inventory shows that they seem to have left without taking a single saving Word. What a let down!

An early morning call brought some friends in to help begin the clean-up, and by mid-afternoon the sisters had found a safer place to spend the night.

We don't yet know if our insurance will cover damaged caused by insurrectionist movements (this is really new for us), but considering what so many others have suffered across the country, we are getting off lightly. My heart is breaking for the small business owners who watched their livelihoods go up in smoke, their losses incalculable, their pleas unheard by callous ideologues bent only on making a statement without regard for the cost that others (not they) would have to bear. If I had money, I would track down some of those business owners (maybe through the news reporters who told their stories) and send them what I could to help them rebuild or at least get through the next few weeks. But God is trying to convince me that my greater contribution will be to pray for the conversion of all those who have used media in this tragedy to provoke more tragedy; who have co-opted a man's death and people's justified sense of despair and outrage in order to gain ground in a political battle with no winners.

People have been asking how they can help. Well, we never refuse a donation (!), and if you are inclined to give toward replacing our doors, window, counter and equipment, please go to and indicate "Chicago" in the notes. Or call in a phone order for that First Communion, Confirmation or Ordination gift. (We also have gift cards; can I recommend that for a newly ordained priest or deacon? That way you are encouraging him to actually come to our store once it is open again, starting a wonderful collaboration!) Of course, we also (always) depend on your prayers in a very special way, particularly for the intention of vocations. How about a special prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church, for Chicago vocations to the Daughters of St Paul????

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My followers on Twitter may have seen my post from Sunday morning, when we only had the most basic news. We assumed that books had been taken (at least Bibles, which, as I said, are almost invariably stolen from bookstore shelves, including our own), and I posted accordingly. It's going to be hard correcting the notion, given that the tweet went totally viral, but I'll try!
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Corrections June 2: The Blessed Sacrament was NOT removed from the Book Center chapel. The sisters did not realize on time what was happening. Instead, the Eucharistic Master must have been blessing the oblivious looters, prompting them to focus only on finding cash and leaving without doing further damage. I also deleted some unhelpfully snarky remarks.


Louise said...

Thank you for the update! I watched a lot of the coverage late into Saturday night. and was very concerned about the sisters when I heard that buildings were burning. Thanks be to God it wasn't in the area of the bookstore! Just like 1968 all over again, guess we didn't learn from that. I'm praying that this craziness ends.

Steve Bainbridge said...

You and your sisters will be in my prayers. I set up a Facebook post to solicit donations from my friends to help you recover.

Sister Anne said...

Thanks, Steve! God bless you!

Sister Anne said...

Yes, may the insanity be healed from its very roots.