March 12, 2020 – When you come to work at a Jesuit institution, you can expect some sort of Ignatian-inspired onboarding. Somewhere between learning about your benefits and getting your ID badge, you hear the story of St. Ignatius, and learn a little about the spirituality he inspired.
At least, that was Paul Mitchell’s experience. And he saw it play out again and again.
“I was teaching at Chicago Jesuit Academy,” he says. “My school, the administration really wanted to on-board folks into the story of Ignatius, and Ignatian spirituality. Every new batch of teachers that was hired.”
And so, Paul got an idea. Could the story of St. Ignatius be made more approachable? More engaging?
Paul taught at a middle school, so the obvious next question: “Can I get it into a story that’s also engaging for my fifth and sixth graders?” He mulled over the challenge.
But it wasn’t until Paul became a full-time father himself that he finally picked up the gauntlet. “I worked on it a little bit that last academic year that I taught at Chicago Jesuit Academy. Then, when my son was about one, I started working with it again. He was a solid napper, so I was looking for things to do during the naps.”
Paul wrote, and his sister – Katie Mitchell Broussard – illustrated. And the children’s book, “Audacious Ignatius,” came to be.
“We were aiming at comprehension from four-year-olds,” Paul says. “We farmed it out to a few families that we knew and got some really outstanding feedback. It really blew us away. It was clear that these folks had read and read and read and read with their kids.”
And that’s exactly the goal of the book: to pass on to the next generation the story of a great saint, a legacy of spirituality, and to “resonate the depth and delight of our tradition.”
Even Pope Francis has been an advocate of the book. In a letter of support to Paul, the pope writes: “I hope that the fruit of your work guides others along the way to God through prayer, action and an understanding of who God is through the person of Jesus Christ.”