Elderly man’s junk is book and devotional treasure

Elderly man’s junk is book and devotional treasure

“Yonkers man’s collection of religious items a windfall for Catholic church”

A collector’s passion for Roman Catholic books and devotional objects became a surprise blessing for a church when a junk-removal company came calling.

David Soto, 32, an employee with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, contacted St. Peter’s Church at 91 Ludlow St. this month after the company was hired to clear out an elderly man’s two-bedroom apartment on Sunnyside Drive. The residence was packed floor-to-ceiling with goods in bags and boxes.

“It was as if we were taking from a religious store,” Soto said.

The man, whom the church and company declined to identify, was moving into a nursing home, and his family hired the company to throw out his possessions.

“My background is Catholic, and I couldn’t throw this out,” said Soto, a Yonkers resident who served as an altar boy at St. Peter’s and grew up in the parish.

Soto contacted the Rev. Arthur F. Rojas, and he ultimately accepted two truckloads, or about 1,000 pounds, of the goods.

The company’s trucks have a 15-cubic-yard capacity.

“Perhaps it was holy hoarding,” said Rojas, 38, who was ordained in May.

Rojas said the many books collected by the elderly man - coincidentally a former parishioner at St. Peter’s - were of a high quality.

The collection included an encyclopedia of the lives of saints and many books on Augustinian and Carmelite spirituality. Soto and his co-workers removed boxes of crucifixes, crosses, rosaries, scapulars, devotional cards, medals and icons.

You know you’re a Catholic book geek when, upon first reading this story, you feel regret because you don’t belong to that Yonkers parish so you could have first dibs at whatever great books were in the collection.

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