“We have always fought hard for our family … for a Christian family life.”
When Matthew, 28, Simon, 26, Giovanna, 23, and Paul, 21, were in various stages of development, their parents were active in their faith lives in and outside the home.
“We’ve given up a lot for our kids,” Greg said without a hint of regret.
“We’ve given up what we wanted to do … when they were children we were involved in children’s ministry, when they were young adults we were involved in youth ministry.
“We had a focus on family holidays and family traditions” with Margherita adding, “It was very much a mission of investing in the next generation.”
That investment certainly paid dynamic dividends with each of their children involved in Church – locally or overseas.
“Matt” now works within third world aid, “Gio” was part of The Disciples of Jesus Youth Mission Team, and Paul will follow in brother Simon’s footsteps this year, serving on NET (National Evangelisation Teams).
“They are all growing in their potential,” a proud Margherita said.
“They have very strong leadership skills … (and) gifts in different capacities.”
“Every young person wants to make a difference (to the world),” Greg said.
“Our four are just like that but they’ve been active in the Church growing up and so that desire has continued.”
The Shaks agreed while they were “fighting for the family” they were “fighting for the Church” Greg adding, “The renewal of the Church is terribly dear to us.”
With hearts burning to contribute more to that renewal, over three years ago the Shaks, who reside within Indooroopilly parish, bought Christian Supplies in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, with two other families.
They distribute church resources to churches, schools, groups, individuals and communities in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands with a local shopfront open to the public.
Within that setting they also support “deaf trade” – giving peoples from as far as Bethlehem, Thailand, Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador a place to sell their craft.
“Never having run a business before” the couple threw themselves in, Margherita moving away from over a decade of work within early childhood development.
The move to co-own and manage the outreach was spurred by much prayer and intercession, the decision interestingly coming to the fore 12 months after the Camino experience.
“We saw it (buying Christian Supplies) as an opportunity to support ministry and distribute quality resources,” Greg said of the business that had existed since 1992. “To be able to resource the Church was something very consistent with who we were.”
Their management, of what has grown to a dozen staff, both full-time and part-time, within the below ground level of The Irish Club premises “is more a ministry than a job”.
The role has “stretched and challenged” them though, including hearing flood warnings for Brisbane city on January 11.
With 20 volunteers the couple managed to move all stock to an upper level of the club, with their premises soon submerged in a metre of water.
“Blessed” to have only lost fittings, a hopeful0 but desperate phone call to Jubilee parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly enabled a miraculous recovery and return to business within a week.
Volunteers worked for days to move thousands of dollars of stock down a single flight of stairs, into “six truckloads” and within a workable format at their temporary premises.
“We otherwise would have been looking at weeks of getting back into business,” Greg said if the hall in Herbert Street, Rosalie, didn’t come to fruition.
Remaining practical and level-headed throughout the ordeal, Margherita continued to speak highly of her husband of almost 30 years, as “a visionary”. “We all look to Greg,” she said.
“He has this amazing capacity with people. “He’s very diplomatic and very inclusive and that’s one of the strong values we have as a business.”
Greg also spoke glowingly of his partner in life and ministry.
“Margherita has really good organisational skills,” he said.
“She’s always been excellent with people no matter their denomination, culture, age … people really warm to her.” Margherita remembers helping victims of the 1974 floods – and particularly “the smell” – and said she didn’t hesitate in the decision to salvage stock.
“Reflecting back (to the recent flood) it was a circumstance taken out of our hands,” she said.
“We just had to respond step by step and watch it unfold step by step.”
Grateful to all those who helped with the relocation and others, especially from their client base, who have offered support and concern, Greg said “all the way along, God was there”.
Continuing the pilgrimage and with St James, the pilgrim and warrior, at their side, Greg and Margherita plan to continue to “fight for families and for the Church”.
“It’s about offering each other strength for the battles of every day life,” Margherita said.
Contact details for Christian Supplies remain the same and they are planning “a grand re-opening” on February 12 from 10am-1pm.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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