By Fr. Joseph Fessio

2018 will be the 40th anniversary of Ignatius Press. There are many stories I could tell about all the blessings God has showered upon us during that time. But one story is especially pertinent because it’s also about the next forty years of Ignatius Press—and it’s one we hope you’ll consider being a part of.

It’s a father-son story of conversion, grace, and service of the Lord

Part 1: The Father

In 1994 we received a manuscript from a young, enthusiastic, Evangelical Protestant who, with his wife and four children, had recently come into full communion with the Catholic Church. It was called Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. The author was Stephen K. Ray.

It was a compellingly written manuscript and we all agreed we should publish it. There was one drawback. It seemed the author, who had spent his youth memorizing Bible verses, had skipped some of his grammar classes.

A red pencil, referenced in this letter, worn down to a nub.
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The famous red pencil! Read the letter for its story.

So Carolyn Lemon, our production editor who was with me at the press’s founding in 1978, took out her long red pencil and went to work. When she finished, it was a short red pencil. We sent it to Steve and he has it enshrined over his writing desk as an aid to Steve’s humility and a reminder to watch those dangling participles.

The book was a great success—both in sales and in evangelization. And Steve has gone on to write two more books for us: Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church and St. John’s Gospel: A Bible Study Guide and Commentary.

But these were just the beginning of a much more ambitious project: A ten-part video series on Old Testament prophets, Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and early Fathers of the Church. All shot on location and narrated by Steve the Indomitable. It’s called The Footprints of God and over fourteen years Steve and we have completed eight episodes, with the ninth in postproduction.

The Footprints of God series has been enthusiastically received by hundreds of thousands of viewers. But filming them is expensive—as well as dangerous—and we’re hoping you’ll help us finish the series in time for our 40th anniversary.

Part 2: The Son

Footprints of God host Steve Ray riding a horse in front of an Egyptian pyramid.
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Steve Ray on location film­ing The Foot­prints of God

More important to Steve and his wife, Janet, than this work for the worldwide Church was their commitment to their own ‘domestic Church’, their growing family. They wanted to pass on their Faith to their children and encourage them to be apostles also.

One of them, Jesse, began working for Lighthouse Catholic Media in Sycamore, IL, soon taking charge of the warehouse where Lighthouse’s Catholic books, CDs, and art were stored and shipped. After Lighthouse’s partial merger with the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO, the remaining operations stayed in Sycamore under a new name: 5 Stones. (Think of the five stones young David put in his slingshot pouch for his battle with Goliath.)

Ignatius formed a partnership of sorts with 5 Stones and we co-own a warehouse in nearby DeKalb.

Then last year the situation changed radically. Our good friend Neil McCaffrey, who with his brother Gene and their colleagues had been warehousing our books and fulfilling your orders for almost as long as Ignatius Press has been in existence, decided to retire and sell his warehouse— so he could get into politics!

The warehouse in DeKalb isn’t large enough to handle all our inventory (42 semi-trailers’ worth!), and there’s no room for expansion, so we decided to build a larger warehouse both to house all our books and to be the office for 5 Stones, which will provide fulfillment and other services for Ignatius Press as well as for a growing number of other Catholic organizations.

Cranes and poles supporting a concrete wall that is a part of Ignatius Press's new warehouse.
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The walls of our new ware­house going up.

That’s where Jesse Ray’s help has proven invaluable. He worked with me closely on the design of a warehouse that would be ideal for the future needs of Ignatius Press and 5 Stones. And it’s really magnificent. Construction started in May of this year, and is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year—if we can pay for the completion.

You see, there’s a small problem—caused entirely by me. When I made a rough estimate of the cost of the land and new warehouse—upon which estimate we bought the property and engaged a local contractor—I was a little off. Only about $2 million, though.

We dug deep in our pockets, and then had some providential but totally unexpected help from one of our dedicated readers. A generous donor made a substantial contribution to help. So we’re close to being able to finish the warehouse—but not there yet.

View of the warehouse being built, mostly metal and concrete.
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An aerial view of constr­uc­tion.

To finish the job of building the warehouse, we need $850,000. To complete the final episode of The Footprints of God, we need $250,000.

We rarely ask for substantial financial support for our work. But circumstances have moved us to do so in this case. I am writing this message because I regard Ignatius Press readers as an important part of our “missionary team”.

People sometimes think of Ignatius Press as a large corporation. That is probably partly the result of our marketing department doing such a great job getting the word out about our books and films.

In fact, we are a relatively small apostolate, with several Catholic families and others involved, trying to serve the mission of the Church through publishing books and distributing videos.

Covers for severals Footprints of God movies.
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Some of the films in the award-winn­ing Foot­prints of God series

We’re praying that you will be inspired to help us move into our next forty years of providing solid Catholic books and films by helping Steve Ray, Jesse Ray, and the rest of the Ignatius Press family finish both The Footprints of God and our new warehouse. There are three ways to donate—choose whichever method is easiest for you!

  • Donate securely online. Simply click one of these links and you’ll be taken directly to a secure PayPal page to donate. No PayPal account is necessary to use this online donation feature.
  • Support the New Warehouse
  • Support Footprints of God
  • Call us at 1-800-651-1531 and let us know how much you’d like to donate, and to which project.
  • Or send us a check in the mail using the form found here.

All donations are tax-deductible. To claim your deduction when donating online, be sure to provide your full address so that we can send you a letter for your records.

Thank you so much for whatever financial help you can give us to finish these two major IP projects! We greatly appreciate your support for the mission of Ignatius Press.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ
Editor, Ignatius Press

Source: Help Fund the Work of Ignatius Press