The Marian Center International, owned by Bill and Kathy Suhr since 2011, closed March 19.
Exhausted from running the business, Bill Suhr decided to retire rather than operate it alone after his wife passed on Jan. 11. The Center began approximately 35 years ago on Milwaukee’s west side and was a familiar place for Catholics to shop for books or gift items and pray in the small chapel, tucked in the rear of the building.
When the Suhrs took it over, they purchased a 4,000-square-foot building across the street from the original location and established the Marian Community Center. For nearly 10 years, the couple operated it, pouring hours of work and resources into keeping the business serving the greater Milwaukee area.
According to Roman Piklua, he enjoyed working for Kathy Suhr in the Center with his wife, Paula. Both had worked for the previous owners of the Center.
“This time, however, my wife took more decision-making roles, as the main person making purchases and together with Kathy and myself, making organizational decisions,” he said. “Kathy’s health was getting more complicated, but we were all hoping and praying that she would be around for a few years to see it flourish. Our Heavenly Father had other plans.”
Rather than dispose of the store’s furnishings and contents, Bill Suhr was willing to donate what remained to the Pikluas so they could continue operations. They instead asked him to help Fr. Andrzej Boroch, pastor of St. Rita Parish, 2318 S. 61st St., West Allis, to begin a new organization that would serve as a parish ministry rather than a private business. The new name for the ministry will be Three Hearts Center for Family and Evangelization. The new organizational structure is being formed and the new ministry will likely open sometime in May.
“I’m a simple custodian of these goods, landscaper and property manager and, with the help of volunteers, we are going to plan and oversee the delivery of this donation to St. Rita’s parish,” said Piklua. “The new name is simply adding a person of St. Joseph being specifically mentioned in the name as the Three Holy Hearts Family and Evangelization Center. (This) refers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph. We invoke our Holy Trinity and the two most important saints in the name while asking quite a few specific saints for protection and intercession.”
While Fr. Boroch has ambitious plans for the ministry, Piklua said they are taking it slow while they evaluate more fully the mission of Three Hearts Center.
“We are all hoping and praying that the name of St. Rita’s parish will be at some moment known around the archdiocese as one of the most active and dynamic parishes with programs for all ages,” he said. “All good initiatives need time, efforts, support of many good people, donations and need to be based on the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph are asked to lead us and help us to merge the needs of the parish with the needs of the archdiocese as needs of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Initial plans under the umbrella of the new ministry, include:
- Consecration to St. Joseph – ends May 1 with the prayer of consecration after 4:30 p.m. Mass;
- Divine Mercy Novena (every weekday – Easter week Monday through Friday 6 p.m. Mass, Novena, DVD) – poster;
- Consecration to Jesus through Mary – Thursdays 6 p.m. (virtual) – 33 Days to Morning Glory – ends May 31;
- Catholic Guide to Loneliness and Catholic Guide to Depression – study of two books to combat the effects of social distancing experienced in the last 13-15 months;
- Consecration to St. Joseph (Aug. 22 and Dec. 8);
- Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – Presence – DVD program from Augustine Institute;
- Wild Goose – DVD program about the Holy Spirit; and
- Champions of the Rosary – October.