Friday, March 08, 2013

Aquinas And Less?

This past Tuesday, I received the following e-mail from Ian Rutherford, President of Aquinas and More Catholic Bookstore.  The only editing I have done are slight formating issues:
My dear friends and customers, 
I write to you today with some news. As most of you know by now, after more than 10 years of business, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods announced it would be closing at the end of February. Admittedly, this was not an easy decision for us at all. 
A funny thing happened on the way to the closing: the outpouring of support for Aquinas and More from our customers, our friends, and fellow Catholics was a bit unexpected, but also very kind and rather humbling. 
To tell you the truth, it made us take pause and prayerfully consider what we should do next. Our heads tell us that we cannot realistically continue in our present state of affairs. Yet our hearts tell us that the void in Catholic shopping and Catholic service left by the closing of Aquinas and More is also real. We've always felt that Aquinas and More was truly a mission. So, are we being called to continue? Are we not? I know what I want, but I also know that -- more importantly -- I want God's Will. 
To better discern our next step, we've decided to launch an “all-or-nothing” crowdfunding campaign over the next two weeks, so we can return Aquinas and More to its mission of serving others with our authentic Catholic online shopping experience. The campaign begins today, March 5, and ends on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. We've named it the "Aquinas Angels" campaign. 
Our goal is to raise $250,000 in two weeks. At this point, we need to replenish inventory, overhaul the website and messaging, and focus on retaining excellent Catholic customer service and results. We know it's a big number. But we also know that we have more than 30,000 Facebook and Twitter fans, and over the last decade, we've served more than 200,000 customers. We have been richly blessed. So we have joy and hope, gaudium et spes. 
Dear friends, I ask you first to pray for our campaign. We will be praying the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer daily for this endeavor. Will you pray too? Second, please take a moment to visit our “Aquinas Angels” site, where you can read more about what brought us to where we are right now and what our plans for the future entail. You can visit the site at:
I want you to know that if we don't reach our goal, your Angel donation will not be processed. It's as simple as that – it's all-or-nothing. We will not be benefiting from any support until and unless our goal is reached. And if we don't reach it, Aquinas and More will likely shut down. So, our next step is in His hands. If you choose to join us, we have different levels of support, and will be "giving back" for your generosity. 
I also ask you to please help us spread the word about our “Aquinas Angels” . With the relationships we've built over the years, I firmly believe this is a “We” Campaign. We can't succeed without your help! If you would like the work of Aquinas and More to continue, if you have had a positive experience with us, please share our story, our site, and your story out there with others you know. 
Aquinas and More is truly not just a Catholic store. Aquinas and More is a way of life for myself, for my wife, for my ten children. We are unabashedly and authentically Catholic in all that we do – our policies, our products, and our outreach projects. You know the value of our Good Faith Guarantee. 
As part of the Year of Faith, we are called to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message, and go forth and proclaim the Gospel. That is the essence of Aquinas and More. Giving to our “Aquinas Angels” Campaign means helping to build and restore an authentic Catholic culture. I know in my heart that there's nowhere else out there where you can find such a ministry and mission – a living and serving, Catholic approach to shopping. I'm willing to put myself out there like this to keep it going. 
We would be honored and grateful if you can become an Aquinas Angel for us and help us reach our $250,000 goal. 
I thank you for taking the time to read my message. I thank you all for your support throughout these ten wonderful years. Whatever happens, I am grateful for having had the privilege to know and serve you in our little way. 
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
As an occasional customer, I was surprised when the announcement was made to close.  Mr. Rutherford was very honest and forthcoming about what has happened to his company, as this post from the store's website 'blog can attest. I even made this comment in response to a post on the company's Facebook page March 2:
I read your post regarding your reasons to close. If those things have been corrected or overcome, go for it. The history of successful entrepreneurs includes a lot of "failures".
He is also much braver than I ever was about asking for help almost seven years ago. Which is why I am writing this post. While I am in no position whatsoever to help him with a pledge, the least I can do is promote his cause. And is this any different than the quarterly appeals from Mark Shea, the reliance on donations from the readers of "Whispers In The Loggia" by Rocco Palmo, or the occasional 'bleg from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at his site?

 I also have this request of those 'blogs whose readership is far, far larger than what this infinitesimal corner of the universe draws: Make this known, either by writing about it (if you haven't already) or linking to this post. I didn't get the response to my problem without it; neither will they. While they have a good start, they have a long way to go.

It's Lent.

Go be an angel.


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