Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Beginnings for Redwood City Paulines

Five years ago we closed up shop in San Francisco, a magnificent place, but because of economic and demographic reasons, a city that could no longer support a Pauline Books & Media Center. Loathe to leave the archdiocese, we hung out our shingle in a rented space 25 miles south of downtown, in Redwood City, right between San Francisco and San Jose, still within the archdiocese, neighbor to San Mateo and Menlo Park. God seems to have prepared the place for us in this community of almost 75,000, because we actually found housing for six before we even found a retail space.

This year the lease was up, and since our landlord chose not to renegotiate, we hunted for one who did. We found a slightly smaller spot at 935 Brewster St. (94063), just around the corner from our previous location, with an enviable amount of free parking and a monthly bill of about half of what we had been paying.

The response of our friends has been, first, the automatic “Oh no, you’re moving!” then a sigh of relief that we’re still in the neighborhood. The only disappointed customers have been San Franciscans, who watched the prospects of our return to their fair city dwindle even more. Of course, the parking is their consolation.

Letting everyone know about the change began weeks ago with advertising in the local papers and parish bulletins. The men’s group at St. Charles Church in San Carlos, about a five-minute drive north, wasn’t satisfied with passing the word on. February 16, the day of the move, eight of them joined Lou, the maintenance director at our own parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, to haul to the new location furniture, computers, and supplies, as well as stock in English and Spanish. Apparently they were having too much fun. A customer couldn’t resist; he dropped everything and joined in!


They were amazed at how much prep work the sisters and employees had done. They also couldn’t get over how much work there still was. Even so, after a while, all that the sisters had to do was stay out of the way; the men had it under control. God pitched in, too: It was supposed to rain that day, but didn’t. To keep everyone else happy, he made up for it the rest of the week.

The only “crisis” moment came when they couldn’t get the check-out counter through the front door. They had to saw a measly two millimeters off the doorway, then repair it once the counter was in. Don’t tell anyone—you can’t even see it.

Everything was ready for the grand opening on February 22. More photos and comments can be found in the Redwood City PBM’s blog posts of Jan. 21, Feb. 20, and Feb. 23 at

Right now the sisters are in three, with the fourth member, Sr. Leonora, helping her ailing mother in San Diego. One of those three, Sr. Jamie Paula, is also a part time student at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union, UC Berkeley. That makes the level of their outreach even more remarkable. Besides staffing the PBM Center with two very capable employees, they host three book clubs for a total of roughly 25 readers, a monthly Faith and Film Night with a dozen people, as well as book and media displays for San Francisco and Oakland parishes whenever possible. Local pastors, educators, and parish staff members have been very welcoming. Little by little, the sisters are heading toward introducing the Pauline Cooperator Formation Program to discerning laity, who eventually will be able to take the mission beyond its present scope.

For now, though, the Paulines in Redwood City are committed to integrating their existing initiatives in the life of nearby communities and completing the PBM Center’s renovation. Chief among the needs are painting the exterior, plus what seems utterly basic, yet is unaffordable without financial assistance—a Pauline Books & Media sign. Price tag: $1,100.

At the same time, maintenance on their home is overdue and becoming more acutely felt. This includes the need to make it significantly more energy efficient. For more information, prospective donors can call either Sr. Kathleen or Sr. Jamie at 650-369-4230.

And send out the word! Copy this post, attach it to your Facebook Wall, or e-mail the address to friends in California. No effort is too small and is more than appreciated.

Information and photos from Sr. Jamie Paula Martos, FSP

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your turn! Share your good word with us.