As you walk down Church Street in Parramatta and sidestep other shoppers, you’d be forgiven for not noticing a quaint gift centre and chapel, tucked in amongst the other shops.
As the rush for lunch begins, the hustle and bustle is bound to disorientate many. However, a growing number of workers in the area are finding time during their lunchbreak to attend Mass and peruse the shelves of devotional material on offer.
St Pauls Books & Gifts Centre publishes and sells books, CDs, DVDs, devotional items, and prayer cards for adults, teenagers and children.
The centre is owned and operated by the Society of St Paul, which was founded in 1914 by Fr James Alberione. In the Spirit of St Paul, Fr James had a vision to utilise all media to disseminate the message of salvation to all people.
Fr Joselito Layug SSP, manager of the centre, said that a lot of people come in to the store for small devotional items such as rosaries, scapulars, chaplets and medallions more than anything else, as well as to attend Mass in the Chapel upstairs.
“The people who work in the area stop by during their lunchbreak to buy religious articles and attend Mass. We have about 50 people attend Mass every day.
“A lot of the people hear about the centre from their colleagues and friends. Good News spreads like wild fire and word of mouth is the most common way that people hear about us,” Father Lito explained.
Even though St Patrick’s Cathedral is just 950m away, many local workers are opting to attend the Chapel for Mass, as it is closer to their workplace, and other local shops and businesses.
Maree Takchi, a catechist at Matthew Pearce Public School in Baulkham Hills and member of St Paul the Apostle Parish in Winston Hills, said that she often buys her teaching material from the centre. “They’ve got great things on offer here – a lot of different things for children and also adults.”
The centre is also a great place to visit before religious occasions, as they provide a wide variety of specialised gift items. Maree was stocking up on religious gifts for her nephews and nieces recently. “I’ve got Baptisms coming up and I think it’s good to give something religious for those occasions,” Maree explained.
When she is in the area, Maree likes to stop by for Mass. In amidst the chaotic working day, it is a place of quiet and adoration that can really strengthen one’s relationship with God. The resources showcased are opportunities for new inspiration and can really recharge spiritual batteries.
The Chapel is named after Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, who is Australia’s first officially recognised saint and patron of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. Mary MacKillop worked in the community, reaching out to the poor to raise them up through the service of education.
It is therefore fitting that the Chapel and bookshop combine to be a source for spiritual nourishment of both heart and mind.
Located at 238 Church Street, Parramatta, the store seeks to serve the people of Parramatta where they are present: in offices, schools, and shops.
St Pauls Books and Gifts Centre
Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 9.30am to 5pm; Saturday – 10am to 2pm.
Address: 238 Church St, Parramatta, almost opposite Peter Wynn sports store.
Tel: (02) 9126 8912.
Chapel of Saint Mary MacKillop
Mass: Celebrated at 1pm on weekdays.
Location: On the first floor of the St Pauls Books and Gifts Centre, 238 Church St, Parramatta