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By John Bookser Feister

Shopping the Web for Catholic Gifts


Cautionary Tale
How to Do It
Web Pick
Check Out

None of us want the coming holiday season to be overly commercial, but that doesn't mean we don't have to find gifts! A head start is best if you plan on ordering religious gifts via the Web.

It may seem that the Web offers an easy solution for hard-to-find Catholic gifts, but learn from my mistake.

Cautionary Tale

I recently ordered a backpack on the Web after searching multiple sites, choosing a model, then comparing prices. The following day I received a vague e-mail message about the item being out of stock, and perhaps I'd have better luck at another Web site! I think the site was a sophisticated teen prank. I realized, to my embarrassment, the folly of submitting my credit card number to an unknown and unrated retailer. Would my number be stolen and misused? (It wasn't.) I turned to the Web site of a trusted catalog merchant and got my backpack within a few days.

If you're setting out on the Web, even for religious gifts, make sure you trust the retailer before you give credit card information.

How to Do It

I'll suggest a shopping strategy rather than endorse particular retail outlets here. Perhaps the best place to start shopping is at the site of your trusted local or regional Catholic bookstore. Go to one of the large search engines like or and type in the name of the bookstore. If they've got a site you'll probably find it there, though you might have to search a bit.

Your parish site might be reselling goods as a parish fund-raiser. Support your parish!

If you're looking for books or other media, you may want to go directly to a publisher's site. A trustworthy list is at, Web site of the Catholic Book Publishers Association.

There is a multitude of Catholic shopping sites on the Web. There are long lists of online retailers at and There are Catholic gift sections at supersites such as (with merchant ratings), and If you are looking for musical gifts, you can find quality, lesser-known artists at


Web Pick
You'll need a fast connection to appreciate this pro-life site fully. It's a young-feeling multimedia site with pregnant teenagers in mind, showing the infant alive inside the womb, offering testimonials, online and telephone support, helping girls find help near home.

Check Out

The saints' section of this site is extensive, as is the liturgical calendar and a beautiful graphic presentation of the works of mercy. There's a parish bookstore here, too, reselling via

Here's the online version of "The Church in Cyberspace," a very helpful pamphlet by Catholic media expert and diocesan communications director Dan Andriacco. The topic is how to evaluate Catholic sites. It discusses site endorsements and suggests three ways to evaluate an unendorsed site's claim to be Catholic.

There will be ongoing need for physical relief and counseling services from the terrorist attacks and what followed. In addition to disaster relief, Catholic Charities USA supports local social-service agencies throughout the country. The site offers information and a chance to make a donation.


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