By Renee Smith
Earlier in the year, if you found yourself in the heart of San Fernando, Our Daily Bread Café & Bookshop (ODB) became the ideal rest stop to grab a bite while also offering you the opportunity to quench your spiritual thirst.
ODB shares the compound of the Pro-Cathedral, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) which took over ownership from the previous business, The Christian Bookshop. It officially opened last October. The meaning behind the name is two-fold, firstly inspired by scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4), and, literally, in providing daily sustenance.
Sitting in the cozy café in March, parish priest, Fr Khan shared that The Christian Bookshop was a good idea but it lacked a “Catholic ethos”. He said, “With our local Church promoting ways to improve hospitality within parish life, as well as forming a thrust to be a more dynamic Catholic, I wanted to make use of that opportunity and let OLPH take over.”
In light of restrictions to businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic which began late March, ODB ceased operations. Though not ready for the opening of the café, the bookshop is accessible Mondays to Fridays 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m –noon.
Fr Khan said, “Our bookshop and café were sanitised both inside and outside the premises. Following the Government’s reopening guidelines for businesses, facilities and institutions, a sink would be stationed outside the bookshop where persons must wash their hands before entering the bookshop with their face masks properly worn. We will be enforcing social-distancing practices for persons who visit in-store.”
Curb side pick-up is also available for customers and ODB management is working on digitising the bookstore to better accommodate at-home purchases of items.
At this time, other Catholic bookstores have not confirmed opening their doors.
In his interview with Catholic News, Fr Khan confirmed donations and assistance from the parish helped to renovate the space, now fully equipped with a kitchen, seating and dining area.
Harris Promenade has always been a hub for the people of San Fernando. With OLPH nestled in the centre, it provides an oasis for anyone looking for refuge, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
With the addition of the café, lawyers, nurses and teachers working nearby often visited to start their day or to wind down during lunch hour with a cup of coffee and a good read. All patrons have access to a table with free reading material on the faith.
“I like to come by and do some evangelisation,” Fr Khan said smiling. “The café is such a great opportunity to share our faith with so many.”
Though qualified in business management and accounting, Fr Khan naturally could not get the job done on his own. He recruited qualified accountant, Michelle Daniel as manager and the Southern Vicariate’s Information Technology (IT) specialist, Juinette Pascall to oversee the IT systems.
“When people come here, I would really like for them to know that this is the work of the Church.”