One day, Harriette Acocella was nearby the bookstore when she noticed there was a woman who wanted to buy a book but couldn’t afford it. She offered the woman some money to pay for it. After this experience, Harriette approached then-pastor Fr. John, asking permission to begin a library here at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. He suggested she try it out for six months and see how it might go.
That was more than 12 years ago. Now, the Seton Library is available to all who attend our parish weekend Masses, with a selection of at least 200 books to choose from.
“From the moment we started, it’s been flourishing,” Harriette says.
The books sit on a few rolling carts in the Gathering Space in the church — one for English books, and the other two for Spanish and Portuguese books. Parishioners, visitors, family, and friends are all welcome to drop by and take books for their own use.
“They don’t have to return the books,” Harriette says. “You take the book, have it, read it, savor it, grow in the faith, and pass it on to another person.”
The concept of the library is to provide the written word to anyone who passes by, whether it be parishioners or visitors to the parish. It is a means of evangelization and provides awareness as to the amount of Catholic literature that exists. The books in the Seton Library primarily come from donations to the parish.
Each Friday, a handful of ministry members go through the donations, screening for Catholic books and donating the others to various other churches and organizations who most benefit from them. The selected books receive an identification saying it belongs to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — but it doesn’t have to come back once the parishioner takes it.
Once a month, the carts are emptied out and filled up with different books from the donations. There is often high demand for books about the lives of the saints and the popes, but there is a wide variety of books for any age or demographic.
“It’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing,” Harriette says. “People will come back a week or two later, tell me they read a chapter and it touched them, and they share. It’s amazing to me.”
There are about 10 ministry members involved in running and coordinating the Seton Library, including three librarians who accompany the cart each week at Mass.
“All the workers in the Seton Library Ministry, they give of their own time and talents,” Harriette says. “They assist other ministries with specific requests for literature as well. Whatever they need, we provide that if we can.”
Any donations can be dropped off at the rectory from Monday through Friday, or at the Seton Library after Sunday Mass.
For more information, contact Harriette Acocella at the rectory office, 386-445-2246.