Monday, January 11, 2010

A Great Idea Filled With Good Sense

A very inspiring article appeared on AOL News a few weeks ago about a priest who started a clothing company called Goods of Conscience. The article, "A Miracle on Main Street? This Man of the Cloth is Running a Clothing Company," by Geoff Williams, tells the story of a Catholic priest, Fr. Andrew More O'Connor from Holy Family Parish in the Bronx, who designs clothes and sells them through his company. His company is a nonprofit. Many are benefitting from his hard work and great idea.
He came up with the idea while traveling to Guatemala in 2005. He's helping to empower some of the people he met on that trip. "Everyone who buys clothing from the on-line retail store is helping to support Guatemalan workers who are skilled in the lost craft known as back-strap weaving." Handcrafted fabric from Guatemala is shipped to his Church and then the fabric is weaved by seamstresses in NY and turned into clothing which is sold on the Goods of Conscience website. The clothes are expensive but well made. I've already visited the site. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the clothing is used to make school uniforms, that are sent back to Guatemala to give children the advantage of getting an education in uniforms made from fabric from their country. He also uses part of the proceeds to help his Church and its school. "If more priests were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, O'Connor says there's no reason why we couldn't see more men of the cloth running their own mini-corporate empires. 'There are a lot of churches with unused space and talented people. Absolutely, this business model could work anywhere.'"
I love his idea. I often said at meetings that the Church should look for ways to utilize unused buildings and space, to make money to sustain their good works. I've read of other religions doing that successfully. It's an idea worth looking into. It could help Catholic schools which are struggling. When I read about Fr. O'Connor's work, I thought to myself, he has the right idea. He's helping the less fortunate, while also helping his parish and school. And I'm sure people are proud to say that the item of clothing they are wearing is from Goods of Conscience. Each piece of clothing they wear has a story and does good. Their clothing choice is making a statement and helping others. I hope in the future, Fr. O'Connor considers also producing a more reasonable line of clothing, then I would definitely order some pieces.