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Manchester religious shop marks 50 years of faithful service

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 27. 2018 12:32AM
Manager Anne Gleason is seen in her family's Cathedral Church Goods shop in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A family operation where generations have shopped for gifts commemorating first communions, confirmations and other religious occasions is celebrating a half-century of business.

Cathedral Church Goods has grown into a fixture in the Granite Square area since Fred and Virginia Gleason first opened the Christian gift and church supplies shop in 1968.

“We minister to those who minister. We help them find what items they need,” said Anne Gleason, who runs the family business at 316 Granite St. with her sister, Susan Hebert.

Two of five siblings, the sisters are co-managers of the shop where they started working for their parents as children.

“It was such a good venture for her and my dad. This was their legacy,” Gleason said. The building was empty when Fred Gleason found it. “Dad was doing some real estate and he came upon it. They talked about it and thought they’d give it a whirl.”

Shelves throughout the store are stocked with rosaries, crosses, books, Nativity scenes, greeting cards and other items for people looking to give a faith-based gift.

Karen Cowette of Gilford browses books at Cathedral Church Goods in Manchester on May 15. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Hebert said customers often come in recalling gifts they received, sometimes purchased at the same store, for particular religious milestones. Many are surprised at the wide selection of items lining the shelves, on display racks and hanging from the walls.

“They don’t expect that it’s going to be such a decision,” Hebert said. “It’s not what it really means to me, but for the people coming in and the significance they find because they’re giving it for very special occasions — baptisms, First Communion, confirmation, weddings — and things like that.”:

The neighborhood has changed considerably over the past 50 years, but Cathedral Church Goods has remained a constant, rebuilding in the same location after a fire in the summer of 1976. 

Married 35 years, the Gleasons were Manchester natives and members of St. Raphael Parish, just a few blocks away, where their five children went to school and were raised in the congregation.

An assortment of statues of the Virgin Mary is on display at Cathedral Church Goods in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

“It was just so different,” Hebert said. “It was an interesting little neighborhood.” 

Though its owners’ roots are Catholic, the shop is actually nondenominational. It caters to individual customers’ gift needs as well as parishes in search of items like chalices, vestments, collection plates and candles of all shapes and sizes.

“If you see it in a church, we can get it,” Hebert said. “We cover the state, pretty much.”

Fred Gleason died in 1986. Virginia, who continued running the store until her daughters took over about 10 to 15 years ago, died in February at age 91. 

“Up until the last 10 years or so, she’d be here every day,” Hebert said.

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