New book calls children to find holiness right where they are, and its message could not be more timely.
As a well-known Catholic speaker and writer, Lisa Hendey spends a lot of time visiting schools, parishes, and homes to talk with children about her books (including virtual visits in recent months). All of those conversations came together to form her newest book, I’m a Saint in the Making, which focuses on the message she wants to share with children: “God is calling you, just as you are, to be a saint in the making,” she explained in an interview with Aleteia.
The book introduces children to amazing role models in the saints. “My first goal is to really encourage children to love the lives of the saints,” Hendey said of the book. “While many saints were priests and religious, many were also laity, including children, so there’s a place for each of us.”
Hendey wrote the popular Chime Travelers series about a young brother and sister who travel through time to meet various saints. Writing for children has made it clear to her that children want to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. They want to be the heroes of the stories they hear, so telling children about the saints inspires them to imitate their holy examples.
“Kids want to have agency and control over what happens in their destinies, in cooperation with God’s plan,” Hendey explained. “The book helps children to understand that they don’t have to be a grown-up to be an important part of the Church, and to contribute and be holy.”
This idea that children too, not only adults, can live in witness to Christ and the Gospel is a conversation Hendey often has with children. She encourages children to reflect on and share ways that they can live holiness in their daily lives:
I ask them, “What are some things that you can do right now to be a saint in the making, right where God put you?” If you ask kids, “How can a second grader be a saint in the making?” They will raise their hands and share ideas like helping another child who is being bullied on the playground, or helping their mom or dad … The book doesn’t just teach kids about saints that have gone before them, but about how to be saints themselves: God puts us right where we are, and we can be used right where we are.
The message of the book, that God is calling each person to holiness right where they are, could not be more timely. Pandemic restrictions have thrust many families into being around each other all day, every day, without breaks or assistance. It’s a stressful situation even in the best of circumstances, so Hendey’s message of loving kindness in our own homes is just what we need to hear.
“Being loving in our homes is the biggest pathway most of us are going to have to being a saint right now,” Hendey said. “We can really look around us look for ways we can reach out and support each other in this time, and teach our kids to do that as well.”
Wisely, Hendey very much took into account the role and influence of parents in the message of her book. “I know, as a mom, that when you write a book for children, you are really writing it for whole family,” she said. “I really hope the book is helping families, especially now when the domestic church has become the focal point, with many families even doing church at home now. How can the whole family live this mission together?”
The Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children, especially in matters of faith. The Catechism tells us,
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. (2223)
Knowing this, Hendey wanted to bring parents deeply into the mission and message of I’m A Saint in the Making. She and the book’s talented illustrator, Katie Broussard, have planned a one-day “virtual mission” program for Catholic schools, parishes, and homeschool groups. The program includes formation for students, teachers, and parents, using a multi-faceted approach to unite the entire community. It’s based on the book’s themes and includes the following:
- A “virtual retreat” for children, including an abbreviated reading of I’m A Saint in the Making and discussion about the lives of the saints and how they are called to be saints
- Resources for a short faculty retreat in the afternoon, based on Church precepts
- An evening event for parents about the universal call to holiness, including a presentation and question-and-answer session
- Simple ideas and resources for every member of the community to live the mission of being a saint in the making
“Typically parish missions will be aimed at adults, but our mission is to reach children,” Hendey explained. She hopes that including a faculty retreat will bring teachers a welcome respite and time for reflection, especially needed during this season of hybrid and remote teaching.
The book would be a perfect read-aloud for All Saints’ Day, whether in the home or classroom. Hendey suggested that teachers and parents could use the book as a springboard to learn about saints special to a child’s school, parish, or family.
The message that each person is called to be a saint is vital to the life of a Christian, and Hendey’s book brings this message to children in a wonderfully welcoming and engaging way. It’s a helpful resource for all Catholic parents and educators, especially with the optional mission program that can help an entire community embrace its message together, and a real gift to the next generation of Catholics.
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