Click here to revisit our 2023 St. Lucy Mass in honor of the patron saint of the blind.

Mission History

An historic photo showing Father Stadelman at work with some staff at our previous location

Mission Statement

To provide the Word of God,
and the best of Roman Catholic
teaching and literature,
spiritual and inspirational material,
to blind or visually impaired persons
of any faith
in whatever format best meets their needs
at no charge
and to continually explore ways
to make that material
more accessible and available to
the widest possible audience of those in need.
To offer opportunities
for volunteer service
for those who wish to help in this work
through their donation
of time, talent or financial support.

The Xavier “Free Publication” Society was founded in 1900 by a blind woman who taught blind children, Margaret Coffey, and a Jesuit priest Father Joseph Stadelman, SJ. The mission started off on 16th Street in Manhattan, in a single room at the College (later the High School) of St. Francis Xavier, from which the Society derived its name. Its mission was a simple one: to make writings on religion and spirituality available to the blind.

At its founding in 1900, Xavier Society was the only Catholic publishing house to make such writings available to the blind, and all services were provided free of charge, a tradition that continues to the present.

In 1904, the Xavier Society became legally incorporated. Its first major undertaking was a transcription of the Bible into Moontype, then New York Point and finally Braille in 1918.

Since its founding, the Xavier Society has continued its pioneering mission by adding large print, vinyl records, audio cassette Mp3 disc, and most recently digital Talking Book format to its Braille offerings. In 1995, the Xavier Society was the first to transcribe the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, including footnotes and indices, into three formats. As new translations of Scripture and readings and prayers for the Mass have been approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Xavier Society was ready to transcribe and offer them to our clients. 

The tradition of this Jesuit-led ministry continues today, with six full-time staff members and a number of volunteers to assure that “those without sight may see.”

A historic image of our library showing stacks of books and two women working