Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New hope for dying Catholic publisher - Sophia Press

William Fahey, Ph.D, President of St. Thomas More College

I have not read the email I received from Dr. Fahey until today. I hope it is not too late to share this with you. Sophia Institute Press as you may know is a very fine Catholic publisher of excellent books. I buy most of the new books from them. For a long time now, John Barger has been pleading for our help. I have only been able to buy a few books recently. I wish I could do more. However, if we all pitch in, we may be able to help. I hope and pray it is not too late. The following is the email. Please read it. I am sure it will touch your heart as it touched mine.  Please keep them in your  prayers!

Opposite me sits John Barger, founder of the venerable Catholic publishing company, Sophia Institute Press. His hair is disheveled, dark circles rim his eyes.

Speaking in a monotone, his words echo those of Mother Teresa in her last years: "For me, the silence and the emptiness is great," he says. "I don’t see God. I don’t hear Him. Sometimes I wonder why I persevere."

"I guess I really do believe that God requires me to be faithful, even at times like this, when it’s clear that in just a few days my life’s work will be destroyed. Sophia is on her deathbed, and I can’t save her."

"William," John continues, "I don’t think you could have done what I’ve done for Sophia these past thirty years, but my time is past."

"Together, however, maybe you and I can still do something beautiful for God."

Something beautiful for God.

Mother Teresa’s phrase.


As John speaks, my thoughts turn back to my days as a young graduate student nearly two decades ago, drifting slowly away from the Church.

It was then that I came across a number of books John had published, books that restored my faith: lucid explanations of Catholicism and ardent defenses of it by Romano Guardini, Christopher Dawson, Dietrich von Hildebrand, St. Thomas Aquinas, and other great Catholic writers whose works were largely out-of-print.

Preparing Yourself for Mass (cover)

The Aquinas Catechism (cover)

Christianity and the New Age (cover)

How would a young man like me have discovered these soul-saving Catholic classics if John had not plucked them from obscurity, edited them well, and lovingly published them in handsome editions promoted far and wide, finally to wind up in my hands hundreds of miles away?

Through John’s tireless efforts at Sophia, God restored my faith. Now God’s asking me to return the favor: to restore Sophia, so she won’t have to close.

To do something beautiful for God.


You may remember that, hoping to stave off destruction, last November John sent out a desperate plea seeking a partner for the Press:

Must sell by January 31st

VW Bug

Vintage Catholic
Publishing Company

No money down.

0% interest

and no payments
for 24 months.

Easy terms thereafter.

No reasonable offer rejected.

Drive away with it tomorrow.

After four-months of grueling discussions with almost fifty suitors, John and his Board of Directors have concluded that here at the recently-renewed Thomas More College of Liberal Arts we have a team with the knowledge, talents, and fidelity to the Church necessary to save her.

Reviewing Sophia's balance sheets, seeing how sick she is, I’m not sure anyone can help her. To pay her most urgent bills and to generate desperately needed income by reprinting her strong-selling, out-of-stock books, they’d have to raise $100,000 in just two weeks!

As John and I sit in his office, we both know that if I refuse to help, Sophia will die . . . within just a few days. I look into his sad eyes, seeking there to find God’s will for Sophia . . . and for me.

Because as the recently-appointed president of Thomas More College, I helped to bring the school back from the brink of bankruptcy while enhancing her reputation as an authentic Catholic college, John and his Board of Directors believe I can work similar miracles here.

They want Thomas More College to manage Sophia and me to become President and Publisher of Sophia Institute Press. They hope that the same spirit that now drives Thomas More will resuscitate Sophia.

Seeing how difficult the task will be, I’m strongly tempted to say "no," but am kept from doing so by something Mother Teresa often said:

"Everything that’s
not given is lost."


For thirty years, John gave his time, talents, and energy --- his whole self, heart and soul --- to this Catholic book publishing apostolate. The things he gave won’t be lost, nor can they be:

. . . not the Catholic books that were crucial in restoring my faith, the Catholic faith which now forms and nourishes an entire college's student body;

. . . not the light of Christ that they brought to millions of souls these past 30 years;

. . . not the Faith that countless generations will come to know through these holy books and these good souls.


Imagine, for a moment, a world in which Sophia's books never had been published, or a world in which their publication ceased.

That's a dark world,
and I shudder to think of it.

Had John not given himself so many years ago, a great light might have grown dim in our world . . . indeed, might have been extinguished and lost, for truly, everything that’s not given is lost.


For the sake of the Church, for generations of Catholic readers, and because I believe I discern the hand of God in my now being asked to save the very Press that so many years ago helped save me --- because of all of these things, and to do something beautiful for God, this week I agreed to become President and Publisher of Sophia Institute Press.

I said earlier that I wasn’t sure I could save Sophia. I know I can’t do it alone.

But I believe that together, you and I can do it, if we each give with greater generosity than ever before in circumstances where proof of Mother Teresa’s dictum will be sudden, unequivocal, and devastating:

If you and I don’t give, and give immediately, Sophia Institute Press will be lost. My next email to you (in just a few days) will contain her obituary.


Today, will you help me
do something beautiful for God?

Will you use this Paypal button to contribute now to the resurrection of this great Press that has already published almost 3 million solid Catholic books, and brought so many souls back to the faith, myself included? Will you help now with your largest donation ever?

Paypal Donation button

You see, right now, as I take the reins of Sophia, I understand (but do not share) John’s profound discouragement: in good times, he sometimes published thirty fine Catholic titles a year; it’s been twelve months since he’s had money enough to publish any new titles whatsoever. Nonetheless, he has soldiered on.

Now although we are within weeks of resurrecting Sophia Institute Press, right now there’s not even enough money for payroll.


Does that trouble me?

Thomas More College was in worse shape when I was asked to lead her. We had more than $500,000 in overdue bills; some faculty and staff had already gone weeks without pay; we were close to closing our doors.

With God’s help, we turned the College around, and we did so quickly. Now Thomas More College is a flourishing institution, a beacon of hope in the world of Catholic higher education.

With your help, I believe the same enterprising, energetic team that restored Thomas More can restore Sophia . . . if only I can buy time for them by raising $100,000 in the next two weeks.

That money will get creditors off our back and restore to print 25 of our best-selling but out-of-stock books. We desperately need the surge of income those books will provide; without it, we simply cannot succeed.


Let me end with one last thought from Mother Teresa, one that sustains me when I accept difficult tasks like saving Sophia:

"Reach high," she urged us, "for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."

My dream is to return Sophia to the prolific publishing schedule she followed for decades: two or three handsome new editions of Catholic books each month, holy Catholic classics and lively new books about Christ and our Faith.

With the help of our fine staff, with your help and your prayers, too, we will flood our sorrowful world with scores of new editions of solid Catholic classics and with new works of Catholic philosophy, theology, apologetics, history, and even Catholic fiction.

Will you join us in this noble work?

Reach high with us!

Dream deep!

Do with us something
beautiful for God!


And will you do it now?

For I assure you that
what is not given will be lost.

Too soon be lost.

Thank you, and please pray for John, for me, and for Sophia Institute Press.

In Christ the King,

William Edmund Fahey, Ph.D.
President, Thomas More College
New President and Publisher
Sophia Institute Press

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