Priest’s books for sale Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Jane Lepeska Grinde, Catholic Herald Correspondent   
Thursday, Jul. 02, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- "Would I love to talk with Father Tom about books," said Jonathan Grinde, a 2020 Carleton College graduate, when he learned that the over 3,000 books at the Good Shepherd Parish sale running through July at St. James School came from the priest's library.

Grinde started kindergarten at St. James School when Msgr. Tom Baxter was the pastor and served Mass with him over the years. Known fondly as Father Tom, the pastor of Good Shepherd Parish is retiring this year after more than 40 years in the ministry and over 20 years at Good Shepherd.


He first came to St. James as an assistant from Reedsburg, left to serve as pastor of St. Clement, Lancaster, and returned to St. James in 2003 as pastor. In 2012, St. James was merged with St. Joseph to become Good Shepherd.

When the book sale was announced to the parish, the book donor was not noted. Thinking it would be an interesting article to focus on the donor, this writer asked Mary Witte, coordinator of the sale, if it would be okay to identify him for a Catholic Herald article.

Witte said it was her understanding that he didn't want to be identified. But, she said, "Why don't you ask him? He might change his mind. After all it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to put the puzzle pieces together. . . . priest of 40 plus years retiring . . . parish suddenly finds itself with 3,000 plus books to sell."

Gift to parish, readers

Moving from the rectory near the St. James Church to a two-bedroom residence, Monsignor Baxter knew he couldn't take all of his books with him. Giving the books to the parish is a win-win for the parish as well as the book buyers, said Witte.

While this writer wanted to feature Monsignor Baxter and his book collection in this article, timing wasn't right, because he was in the midst of moving.

Back to Grinde and his selection of books. He picked out more than 20 and was especially excited about 1776 by David McCullough; Moneyball by Michael Lewis; I Am Malala by Mala Yousafzai; Why Not Wisconsin? by Matt LePay; American History: A Very Short Introduction by Paul S. Boyer; We Were 8 Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates; The Doctor Stories of William Carlos Williams Gilead by Marilynne Robineson; and a couple books by William Faulkner.

Grinde's enthusiasm for the books isn't surprising since he earned his Bachelor's Degree in English and public policy and already has hundreds of books for his own library. He plans to do a year of service before going to graduate school to study public policy.

His mother (this writer) was happy to get a couple of Thomas Merton books, To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel, and a couple of biographies of Lyndon Johnson.

Open by appointment

The book sale, conducted by the hidden treasures team, is being held each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday through July 30 from 10 to 12 noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Hard cover books are $5; softcover books are $3; cash and checks only will be accepted for purchase.

Only 10 masked people will be allowed at a time at the sale. To make an appointment, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or sign up on

Getting ready for the book sale was a team effort, said Witte. Cynthia Schoettler and Peg Adamowicz packed the books at the rectory, and Paul Scott moved them to the school basement.

Witte unpacked, counted, and arranged the books for the sale. She said that 60 percent of the books are religious and inspirational; the rest are mostly historical, biographical, political, sports, and some novels.

Also included in this sale is a selection of vintage (1970s and 1980s) vinyl albums as well as barely used VHS cassette (movies, TV series, etc.) and vintage cassette tapes (music).

Books like new

Most of the books are like new and in excellent condition and include some "coffee table" books. Witte said, "This is a phenomenal opportunity to add to your own library, or to buy books as gifts for loved ones for all upcoming events from birthdays to Christmas to graduations."

The hidden treasures team, chaired by Carol and Paul Scott, starts collecting items for the parish fall festival each spring. In recent years, the parish has received "unique and valuable items," said Carol. To maximize their benefit to the parish, the team offers them to parishioners and friends outside of the festival.

The team emails parishioners regularly about items, offering them for a week before placing them on eBay. To get on the email list, contact Scott at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it To view the items on eBay, go to

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