Faith unites people in many different ways. In the case of the Immaculate Religious Shop and Café, it brought together five women. Kereti Ah Liki, Tanya Grey, Francine Fruean, Trude Clarke and Jackie Fepulea’i had known each other through their church group of Divine Mercy.
In the past, each of these five women already had experience in leading a business. They came together to set up Saint Therese, a Catholic Retreat centre. Last month, their friendship has led to the opening of a completely new business, which is located right next to the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral in Apia: The Immaculate Religious Shop and Café.
“The one thing we have in common as women in this venture is that we are all staunch Catholics,” said Jackie Fepulea’i in the newly opened café.
Since its opening ceremony three weeks ago, the religiously themed café has served many customers, no matter if they are devout Christians or not.
“It has been going really well so far for us. We see our business also as a part of the community service, which is not only limited to the Catholic community only, but is also open to all the other religious communities in the area,” said Francine Fruean in the shop which can be found in a separate room, right next to the café.
As a community service, the café’s shop all kinds of Christian goods one could imagine being placed in a church: bibles, crucifixes, rosaries, priestly robes and statues of the Virgin Mary.
But as Francine Fruean told Samoa Observer, those items are of course being sold to churches who are in need for them. But Samoa’s more devout tourists also discovered a certain joy in them.
“A lot of the subjects you can buy here are for the churches, because most of them use and do need the same particular items. But we have so far had lots of tourists in here, which came in to buy some nice souvenirs to take home during their visit of the cathedral next to us.”
Of course, there is also the café, which is visited by many customers on a regular basis. “We added the café, in which our costumers are being served in a friendly and reserved roman catholic setting”.
The venue’s setting is indeed one of a kind: looking up, customers can discover a gorgeous ceiling panel in the style of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” that is originally placed in Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy, while the café’s walls are decorated with Christian scenes such as Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper”.
The café’s many customers clearly enjoy the catholic themed surrounding:
“This is my first visit here, but I think it is really great. I would not consider myself a really devout or religious person, but I really like the look of the building, and the coffee served here is excellent as well”, said Leilani Su’a who visited the place with a colleague.