OMRO/WINNECONNE — Stronger ties within a community can be created with simple acts of sharing. The parishes of St. Mary in Omro and Winneconne hope to do so by joining the Little Free Library movement.
Book boxes have been dedicated outside both parishes for people throughout the communities – whether or not they are parish members – to donate good books, borrow books and share books for no charge.
“One of our goals as a parish has been to work on evangelizing and reaching out to those who have been away from the church,” says Sr. Pam Biehl, pastoral leader of the parishes. “By providing good books for people to read, we not only encourage good reading but also share with others a bit of joy and inspiration. It’s a way for us to give the world back to God a bit better than it was because we were here.”
The book box in Winneconne was blessed and opened on Nov. 19. It was built by parishioner Bob Weber and decorated by Sr. Regina Rose Pearson. Sr. Regina, like Sr. Pam, is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc and is studying parish pastoral ministry. On the book box, she painted salvation stories from the Old and New Testaments.
On Nov. 30, the book box in Omro was blessed and dedicated. It was built by the parish’s building and grounds committee. Sr. Regina decorated this one with themes from the story of creation.
Each box offers books for children, teens and adults on all subject matters. “The idea is to encourage good reading,” Sr. Pam said. “They are not just spiritual books or Catholic books. It’s just about good reading.” She encourages all members of the community to take a book to read, then return it or exchange it with a different book so that the inventory will always be changing.
Already, Sr. Pam has seen activity at the boxes and spaces where books have been taken. “It’s been a great conversation piece and great for our parishes,” she said. “I have noticed books missing, and that’s a great sign. Somebody has taken those books out of the library. It’s wonderful. It’s working.”
She hopes the book box will become an evangelizing tool.
“It’s great to see adults and families stopping by after Mass,” she said. “One little girl said to another, ‘Do you want to go with me and look at the Little Free Library?’ and off they went. It’s a nice little thing.”