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Audacious Leadership

Have you heard about Mother Teresa Middle School? They are an audacious middle school located in the inner city of Regina, Saskatchewan. Serving a community of predominantly Indigenous families, MTMS forms graduates who are loving, religious, intellectually competent, open to growth and committed to doing justice. Read more about their mission here on their website!

Terri Cote, MTMS principal, recently shared with me how their school used Audacious Ignatius as part of their school’s Summer Leadership Retreat and Summer Leadership Academy. The retreat is for 7th and 8th grade students and takes place in Calgary, Alberta. The leadership academy takes place at the University of Regina and includes 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. 

From the cover of the MTMS Audacious Ignatius Journal

The students are given Audacious Ignatius Journals on the retreat that focused on being audacious: brave, courageous, and willing to take risks. They used their journals for prayer, and to record decisions they made to be audacious like Ignatius. They also have a connection to the Cree language, as “brave”, “bold” and “willing to take risks” are written in both English and Cree. (Terri notes that the words were vetted by Elder Harry Francis so as to be certain that they convey the correct meaning in Cree.)

A page from the Audacious Ignatius Journal

As a physical reminder of this challenge to be audacious, Terri made each student an “Audacious Ignatius necklace” that incorporated symbols of their school, and how their school loves and supports each of them. Terri explains, “The symbolism included in the necklace was intentional in the following ways.  Of course, “A” for audacious. The rings that are red because of the symbolic meaning of the color; confidence, courage and strength to name a few.  The three blue beads on each side of the A symbolize the color of our MTMS logo and three at MTMS means “We Love You”. So in this case “We Love You” times 2.”

After reflecting in their journals about their courageous plans, they receive a red ring for their necklace to symbolize their desire to be audacious like St. Ignatius.

Eagle, a student at MTMS, shows off his Audacious Ignatius necklace

I was fortunate to meet Terri at the Jesuit Schools Network conference this summer when I presented about how the life story of St. Ignatius is used to teach the fundamentals of Ignatian spirituality. It was so inspiring to talk with Terri and see the energy and love she brings to her work. 

Katie, Terri, and Audacious Ignatius at the Jesuit School Network Conference

This inspired us to make a coupon code especially for Jesuit institutions in Canada. Shipping internationally is quite expensive, but we’ve made the coupon code “SJCanada” to try to offset some of the shipping costs.

Paul and I are Ignatian educators at heart, and we are delighted to know how Audacious Ignatius is being used in schools. Are you using Audacious Ignatius at your school? We’d love to hear about it. Best wishes to Terri and the MTMS community for a bodacious school year!

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Audacious Ignatius featured on Lisa Hendey and Friends Podcast

It was so fun to talk to Lisa Hendey about the process of creating Audacious Ignatius. My kids love Lisa’s Chime Travelers books, and I was so excited to be a guest on her show.

You can find Episode 61 of the Lisa Hendey and Friends podcast in your favorite podcast app, or here on Lisa’s blog.

Fun fact: my five year old son has a cameo on the podcast (at 24:30)… he had painted a picture of a star for me, and couldn’t wait to give it to me to hang up in my art studio!

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A Book For Every Age (And Age Group!)

Last night, a friend sent me a real time video taken at her adult faith sharing group. A woman had just received Audacious Ignatius as a gift, and was so thrilled by it that she brought it to the prayer group, read it aloud, and explained what her favorite pages meant in her life.

We are thrilled by stories like this, which we hear not infrequently!

Another example. Here is a review on the website that makes the same point.

I love this book! I ordered four copies. One for a graduate professor, one for a baby gift, one for an elementary school principal, and one for my high school classroom. It is definitely a book for all ages.

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And another!

This book can serve as a starting point for any discussion of Ignatius’ contribution to the history of Christian spirituality. I recommend it as a teaching and formation resource!

Customer review on

And another!

Audacious Ignatius is appealing to a broad audience, kids and grown-ups alike. My husband and I both gave out copies to our spiritual directors who loved it just as much as our own children.

Customer review on

So why does this illustrated life of the story of St. Ignatius have so much traction with adults? We are so glad you asked! We explain five reasons below.

Why adults love to learn from Audacious Ignatius

1. A Memorable Retelling (or: The Defiance of Staleness)

Do you work and/or pray at a Jesuit institution? How many times have you heard the cannonball story? How many more times do you think you will hear it in your career?

Your colleagues and/or students are likely in the same position. We are going to hear this story a lot. Why not use Audacious Ignatius to be the most memorable retelling they will encounter?

And we hear over and over that people are thrilled to have a whimsical (and illustrated) telling of the life of Ignatius, that resonates the depth and delight of his witness, rather than one more warmed over retelling. Especially in a professional setting.

The story of St. Ignatius is remarkable, and let’s give it the color it deserves.

2. Ease of Recall and Sharing

For many professionals in the Jesuit world, Ignatian spirituality and / or the Spiritual Exercises mark a defining moment in their lives and vocations. But such ineffable experiences can be tough to talk about. Audacious Ignatius makes this easier.

Like in its distillation of the Exercises, for example:

Or the illustrations that resonates the Two Standards:

Or this hat tip to the Call of the King:

This book is for adults who “get” the heart of Ignatian spirituality and have a deep desire to effectively pass along the gift.

3. “Go Now! Start!”

We (adult) Catholics have a problem. We have been trained to let the priest or the parish staff lead, to “be the religious ones,” to evangelize. The masses are often content to comment on what another is being done by another rather than contribute to the life of the Church.

Ignatius’ story counteracts this destructive habit. He, as a lay man, encountered God in prayer and did not hesitate to go live this vocation. See below!

This is a hugely important theme for the life of the world and Church today and we are proud to highlight it in Audacious Ignatius.

4. Defy the “Buffered Self”

In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor describes that most adults in the West experience what he calls a “buffered self.” That is, they no longer see the world as “enchanted” (or shot through with the sacrament of a God of Love) and also experience a barrier (or buffer) between themselves and this disenchanted world. (What a tough way to live!) It is a way to assert rational control over one’s circumstances that has the distinct disadvantage of also cutting us off from the sacramentality of the world.

Reflection on Ignatius’ insistance that “the Creator deal direct with each creature” (see below) can re-enchant the world.

If we become like children, the “buffered self” can be transformed. (Anyone who asks why you are using a “children’s book” to teach adults can be reminded of this fact.)

5. Recall the Size of the Jesuit World

The Jesuit world is large, but we can lose sight of this given the tasks at our institutions. The narrative of Audacious Ignatius, though, brings us straight there.

The growth, breadth, depth, and diversity of the Ignatian family is a sacrament of the Good News. This page helps us to recall and talk about it.

So, go be audacious like Ignatius! Integrate this joyful retelling of the life of the Jesuit founder into your adult classroom or faith formation program today! (Contact us for excellent bulk rates.)