If Dr. Seuss Wrote a Biography of St. Ignatius of Loyola
By: Melissa Pavloff
Katie Mitchell Broussard, a graduate of the Alliance for Catholic Education, and her brother Paul Mitchell recently published a children’s book, Audacious Ignatius, based on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Audacious Ignatius tells the story of St. Ignatius Loyola, from his conversion, development of the Spiritual Exercises, to the founding of the Society of Jesus.
As a member of ACE 11, Broussard taught chemistry and biology at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Los Angeles before moving to Chicago, where she taught at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School until 2015.
“After my second child was born, I decided to leave the classroom to be home with my kids full time,” she said. “It was while I was home with my children that I noticed my interest in art. Art projects became my favorite part of the day. In 2017, I decided to enroll myself in some art classes at a local art studio, and started painting and drawing regularly.”
Paul, an experienced teacher himself, drew heavily from his classroom experiences to pave his way as he began his writing endeavors.
“Teaching is the ultimate challenge in cognitive empathy,” he said. “A good instructor must anticipate the intellectual and emotional journey of a student through a lesson, unit, and year. I am a better writer for having years of this empathic practice.”
The original draft of Audacious Ignatius aimed to introduce new faculty to the story of the Jesuits at Chicago Jesuit Academy, where Paul taught at the time
“When I became a father, I started editing it so that it would be understandable to young people,” he recalled.
Shortly afterward, he approached Katie about illustrating the book and the pair began working on the storyboard and thumbnail sketches in October 2017.
Paul traced the pair’s cooperative efforts back to high school English classes, during which Katie repeatedly provided critical feedback to her younger brother.
“Her feedback showed me my growing edges,” he said. “To create art as a team, you need to be able to give and receive feedback productively, and I think that working on these essays in high school helped our ability to ship this book.”
Both Katie and Paul recalled the steep learning curve involved with the book’s publication. After initially being turned down by a publisher, Paul explained that the duo decided to publish the piece on their own terms, which required both of them to learn new software, editing and personal marketing.
“There were many reasons to think that this project would not work,” Paul said. “Our answer to these situations was always to learn more stuff. And we love learning which, I think, is why we love teaching.”
Katie agreed, noting that it was often the pair’s desire to share their work with others that kept them going.
“We knew it was going to be a ton of work, but we both were really excited to create it, and motivated to be able to share the story of St. Ignatius’s life with our kids,” she said.
The digital formatting and printing preparation was underway by April 2018, and the published book was shipped out to buyers in December 2018, just in time for Christmas.
Katie said that her children played their own role in providing feedback throughout the creative process.
“I read them the story every day while it was in progress, so it slowly grew from a few pages to a complete, fully-illustrated story,” she said. “They were excited about it and were impatient for me to finish more pictures so they could see what happened next–that definitely motivated me to work faster!”
Both Paul and Katie were thrilled by the book’s success, particularly the way that the religiously-centered message resonated with so many families.
“So many people have emailed us to say that they love it and that their kids do, too,” she said. “We are over the moon about that, and can’t wait to make more books.”
Paul echoed Katie’s enthusiasm: “For me, one deep joy in the whole process is hearing from folks who long to experience the depth and delight of our Catholic tradition. I would love to create resources for lay formation that engages this longing.”
*From now until June 10, when you place an order at cordepress.com, Katie and Paul will donate a copy of Audacious Ignatius to an ACE school of your choice. Use code "acegift" at checkout. You may specify which ACE school you would like the book to be donated to in the order details.
Update: Paul and Katie recently received a letter from Pope Francis stating that he received a copy of Audacious Ignatius and enjoyed reading it!