St Mary's Bookstore

St. Mary's Bookstore of Nashville, Tn is located just minutes away from beautiful downtown at 1909 West End Ave. St. Mary's Bookstore has been providing customers with church supplies, books, and gifts for the past 80 years.

2007 Outstanding Alumna,
St. Cecilia Academy

Jean Drennan Dortch, SCA '51

Julie Dortch Cragon, SCA '78

Julie Dortch Cragon, SCA’78, turned her journals into a nationally treasured book, Bless My Child. Jean Drennan Dortch, SCA’51 – with a lot of help from her daughter and family –turned Nashville’s St. Mary’s Bookstore into a comfortable place to enhance one’s faith. Together, Jean and Julie have turned the St. Cecilia Academy Alumnae Association into a family affair.

julie and jean

Both women were honored this summer as alumnae of the year at the annual June alumnae luncheon. They were honored for all they have done to further St. Cecilia Academy. Julie, however, will tell you that it is St. Cecilia Academy that has done so much for her family.

“Alumnae have helped us to build this business,” Julie said of St. Mary’s Bookstore, which the Most Rev. James D. Niedergeses, the retired Bishop of Nashville, asked Jean to take over in 1978 and which Jean bought from the Diocese the next year.

“When mom went to buy the business from the diocese, it was an alumna who helped her finance the business and an alumna’s husband who helped us get this building on West End and an alumna who helped us get the parking lot,” Julie said. “St. Cecilia alumnae come back into the store – two are working here now: Ginger Luster Sullivan runs our ordering and Kay Petri Galligher is our office manager and my sister, Donna Dortch Turner, does all book keeping and runs the store when I am out of town.

“When you get someone who has been at St. Cecilia, you know what you’re getting. To me, once a St. Cecilia girl always a St. Cecilia girl.”

That is certainly true for Jean and Julie. Upon graduation from St. Cecilia Academy, Jean received an art scholarship to St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans. Since then her life has been devoted to her family, the church and her art.

“I only know that I love St. Cecilia, and I credit God and the sisters for most of the wonderful things that have happened in my life,” Jean said. “My education, the fostering of my art, my values and my prayer life, without which I can do nothing,” were all developed at St. Cecilia Academy.

“My grandmother Rose Dalton Dortch went to St. Cecilia when it was a boarding school and then my mother went there, also at the Motherhouse, then my sisters and sister-in-law, nieces and daughters. We’ve all gone to SCA,” said Julie. “To me there is no better place for a Catholic girl especially, but also young women in general. It’s an opportunity for every young Christian woman because, like the bookstore, it gives you a comfortable stage to share your faith with women your age, the sisters and teachers.”

Julie and husband, AlanAfter graduating from St. Cecilia Academy in 1978, Julie received her bachelor’s degree in education and math from Vanderbilt University. She taught at St. Cecilia in the PE department and coached for a few years in the mid 1980s. Then she began working at St. Mary’s Bookstore.

“When my mom bought the store from the Diocese, she started taking the store to parishes and schools outside the Nashville area,” Julie said. “I followed her lead. We set up book and gift tables at schools and churches and gave book talks to groups such as garden clubs, young mothers, adult ed or whoever invited us.”

Julie is on the board of the Catholic Booksellers Association and is a member of the National Church Goods Association. She gives book suggestions and critiques upcoming books for several different Catholic publishing companies. Julie also was on the most recent Strategic Planning Committee for SCA.

“My first grade teacher was Sr. Christine and my principal for all four years at St. Cecilia was Sr. Ann Marie, both of whom became Mother Superior. I guess the Congregation figured if they could survive me, they should be sent straight to the top,” Julie said.

Julie and her husband Allen Cragon have six children: Beth, 18 SCA’07, now attending Spring Hill College; Sarah, 16, a current SCA student; Will, 11; Margaret, 9; Nicholas, 7; all of whom attend St. Henry. Julia, 5, attends the Jewish Community Center Preschool.

Jean is a founding member of the Chestnut Group, Plein Air Painters for the Land in Nashville, a member of the Von Leibig Art Museum of Painters in Naples, FL, and in 2006 was entered into The National Museum of Women in Art in Washington.

Jean and Bill have eight children, 24 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. All three of Jean’s daughters are St. Cecilia graduates, three of her granddaughters are graduates and one granddaughter will be a senior next year.