The new location of Auckland’s iconic Hard to Find Bookshop is a very blessed place.
That’s what St Benedict’s parish priest Msgr Paul Farmer told people at a blessing ceremony at the shop just across the road from St Benedict’s church in Newton.

The property at 2 St Benedict’s St was once bought by St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Msgr Farmer explained on June 14, one day before the official opening of the relocated bookshop.

The saint lived on the site, and for many years it was the headquarters of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

“A lot of good has happened here, and a lot of good people have lived here, and now we have some more good people living here,” Msgr Farmer said.

Bookshop owner Warwick Jordan said that being able to open at these new premises is “a miracle for us”.

Media reports explained how the former home of the bookshop in Onehunga was sold and the new owner “wanted a commercial rent”.

This led to the bookshop, with its 90,000 second hand volumes and its Dunedin repository of online stock with more than half a million titles, being in danger of closing.

After exhausting all other possibilities, as a last resort Mr Jordan,who is not Catholic (but his wife and children are), contacted Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn and explained
his need.

At the blessing, Mr Jordan thanked Auckland diocese’s property manager Michele Elsmore who subsequently “found this place, linked us up, didn’t throw our letter in the bin”.

He reportedly spent $100,000 — mostly from a bank loan — refurbishing the St Benedict’s St premises. Some $27,000 raised in a Givealittle fundraiser last year was spent on timber shelving.

Msgr Farmer said the bookshop is a welcome addition to St Benedict’s Street.

The priest expressed the hope that the bookshop “might be like a bar of wisdom for the people who come here, people who love books, and they read and they reflect, and they not only become knowledgeable but often they become very
wise”.

“Robert Louis Stevenson said that the person who doesn’t read is like the person who never travels. I think there is a lot of truth in that,” Msgr Farmer added.

“Travel broadens people, it opens them up to new ideas, new ways, new cultures, new ways of thinking, and reading is the same, it opens up vistas for us, that if we don’t read, remain closed.”

The bookshop’s theology section is reportedly housed in a former chapel on the site, in which there are also notes posted about St Mary MacKillop.

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