50 YEARS ago, when the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate sought to raise funds to build a shrine, the beneficent Catholic organization relied on a priest to hand-write and mail letters soliciting donations. A one-man in-house printing and direct-mail operation, Father Edwin Guild was instrumental in the creation of Our Lady of the Snows, among North America's largest outdoor shrines—while incidentally founding what would become a fully staffed, full-service in-plant facility.
Today, the Missionary Oblates count on the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate (MAMI) for direct-mail fund-raising, as well as for the creation and dissemination of educational, spiritual and other faith-based materials. MAMI employs 98 people who handle everything from concept to delivery, including writing, design, photography, prepress, printing, finishing, mailing and storage.
"We mail about 20 million direct-mail packages a year [to established and prospective supporters], with each package containing up to 10 components," reports MAMI Director of Operations Bill Undertajlo. Typical package components are a variety of letters and response forms, as well as greeting cards to commemorate holidays and holy days and to send birthday and get-well wishes to benefactors.
Located across the street from Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Ill., (near St. Louis), the in-plant also produces printed products for the shrine, which attracts a million visitors a year and features a restaurant, hotel, gift shop, visitors' and conference center, and even a retirement community.
The shop evolved slowly over the years. Undertajlo reports that Fr. Guild, who passed away in 1995, remained active in the association until the 1980s. During that time, MAMI traded up to movable type, initially purchasing a Multilith press, and has since continued to expand its capabilities. The Oblates began bringing in the laity, and the in-plant is now staffed completely by lay people.
Large Offset Operation