A Store That Caters To Heaven And Earth St. Jude Shop In Cherry Hill Is A Product Of A Family's Faith. It Offers Prayer Books, Tapes And More.

Posted: April 19, 1998

CHERRY HILL — In a store filled with rows of books, tapes and statues of saints, mostly geared for adults, religious items for one of the most important religious experiences for Roman Catholic children also can be found.

The St. Jude Shop, in the Barclay Center, dedicates an area to the white dresses and veils and white suits and blue blazers Roman Catholic youths traditionally wear when making their First Holy Communion, often celebrated in May.

The shop is part of a family business started in 1965 by Norma and Louis DiCocco Jr. and named in honor of St. Jude, whom Catholics recognize as the patron saint of impossible causes.

Company president Louis DiCocco 3d said his parents opened the business two years after their fifth child was born and named it after her. Norma DiCocco already had four sons, but she attended Mass every day during her next pregnancy and prayed to St. Jude in the hope of having a girl. Jude Thaddeus Marie was born three weeks late on Oct. 28 - celebrated as the Feast Day of St. Jude.

The Havertown-based company also has shops in Havertown, Northeast Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Center City and Somerville, Somerset County.

The Cherry Hill store, opened in September 1994, features such items as Bibles, books, videos, crucifixes, rosaries and medals. One corner of the store holds racks of First Communion clothes, along with baptismal outfits and other special-occasion wear.

Louis DiCocco 3d, his three older brothers and his younger sister are all active in a business that their parents started because they wanted to be more than ``Sunday Catholics.'' Their father died, but their mother is still involved in the business.

His staff is dedicated to helping people who visit the store to foster their spirituality, DiCocco said. ``It's a vocation for us to provide merchandise and articles to help people get closer to God,'' he explained.

Jane McCorkell, a Mount Laurel resident, said she visits the shop two to three times a year. Active in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Moorestown, she visited the shop recently to pick up portable Mass kits for two men sponsored by her church who are becoming priests in Jamaica.

``Whatever I'm really in need of I come here first because I know I'm going to find [it, and if not], they're going to find it for me,'' McCorkell said.

When they opened the Cherry Hill shop, DiCocco said, the family expected to attract people looking for contemporary religious items, such as abstract art and light reading.

``What we saw coming out of that store was a movement toward the traditional,'' DiCocco said, including devotional items, statues and holy cards.

IF YOU GO * The St. Jude Shop is in the Barclay Center, Route 70, Cherry Hill. Call 216-0330.

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