My article “Archdiocese operates a sacred ‘dollar store’” appears in National Catholic Reporter. Here’s the lede:
On the first Wednesday morning of December, Fr. Jason Kulczynski brought an unusual shopping list to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary here. Two weeks prior, his congregation, Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Oreland, Pa., installed the altar Pope Francis had used in a September Mass in Philadelphia. Using it for the first time, Kulczynski was struck that the most recent, and only, person to offer Mass at the altar had been the pope. “That was very awesome,” he said.
With Christmas looming, Kulczynski sought an altar cloth to adorn his parish’s famous new addition, which was a “shot in the arm,” as the church had recently been in danger of shuttering.
He wound up spending $100 that day on a picture, a stole and several altar cloths, including two traditional white ones with embroidered edges that he hopes will fit the papal altar.
Kulczynski was one of about a dozen people — a handful clad in clerical collars — shopping for sacred objects at the Philadelphia archdiocese’s Ecclesiastical Exchange. Launched in 1992, the program has sold unused religious objects at a steep discount to churches in Pennsylvania, as well as in Arizona, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas.
“It’s like going to the dollar store or a church flea market; you find more things than you’re looking for,” Kulczynski said.