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What to do when a family doesn’t want their family Bible


David Ball | CC

Katrina Fernandez - published on 06/01/17

"I'm not about to throw it away, but am not sure what to do with it. Advice?"

Dear Katrina,

I recently found a family Bible at a local thrift store. It’s one of those really nice hard-bound Bibles that you give as a wedding gift. I bought it because it has an entire family history of birth announcements, weddings, deaths, and sacrament receptions listed in it going all the way back to 1945. I figured someone was probably missing this heirloom, so I took to Facebook to find them. I was able to get in touch with one of the owner’s older grandsons, only he didn’t want it. He told me his parents are divorced and no one in their family is Catholic anymore, so I could throw it away if I wanted. I’m not about to throw it away but I’m not really sure what to do with it. Advice?



Dear Joan,

That was wonderful of you to rescue the Bible and go through the effort of tracking the family down. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t want the Bible. I know it’s hard to imagine why anyone would toss away such a beautiful record of their family history. Whether the family is Catholic or not, it’s still a written recording of their family you’d think he would want for himself or for his own children.

There could be any number of reasons he decided against retrieving the Bible — family falling out, estrangement, anti-Catholicism, or lack of belief all together. We may never know his reasons, but what we do know is that of all the thrift stores in your area and of all the people who frequent them, that Bible ended up in the possession of a praying, practicing Catholic. That’s a beautiful bit of providence.    

I suggest you keep it. Send a message to the grandson letting him know that you will safeguard the Bible just in case he ever decides to change his mind, with your email address so he can contact you in the future. Then begin praying for this family as if they were your own. Like I said, that Bible ended up in your possession for a reason.

It’s probably too cumbersome or delicate for everyday Bible reading (plus, you don’t want to damage it when the owner’s family changes their mind) so keep it somewhere safe in your home. If you don’t have the space, you might call the parish the family used to belong to and see if perhaps the church has an archive library to safely store it. You can find the parish name in the sacrament recording pages, I’m sure.

You’re right not to throw it away. Someone wanted this family prayed for and spiritually looked after and it appears you were picked for the job. Pray for their deceased, remember the family in your daily prayer intentions, have a Mass said for their dead… and please, keep us posted if the grandson changes his mind. However, don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t. What you are doing is a wonderful spiritual act of mercy that will surely have its rewards. Consider this thrift store find a wonderful blessing and opportunity to grow in spiritual charity.

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