After realizing there were too few homeschooling resources about the Jesuit martyrs, Bonnie Way published her own book about the missionaries. Photo courtesy Bonnie Way

Homeschooling mom fills in gap on martyrs

  • January 16, 2020

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver mom Bonnie Way has long been inspired by the Canadian martyrs, eight Jesuit missionaries who in the 1600s gave their lives to preach the Gospel to North America’s Indigenous peoples.

“They were so motivated by love, for the love of God and for the love of people,” despite trials, torture and eventually martyrdom, said Way.

But the homeschooling mother of five found there were few resources available to introduce the Canadian martyrs (also known as the North American martyrs) to children. So, Way took it into her own hands. The first-time author published the North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book, the culmination of a year’s work.

“There’s nothing like this for families for teaching our kids about the saints,” said Way.

The activity book, intended for children aged seven and up, tells the stories of all eight martyrs alongside colouring pages, word searches and even a “decoding” challenge to introduce the idea that the missionaries had to learn First Nations languages to properly preach the Gospel. St. Jean de Brébeuf, the “Apostle of the Hurons,” is credited for writing the first dictionary of the Huron language.

“Often we think saints are superheroes with some secret power or special ability we don’t have. That’s not true,” said Way. “They were ordinary men.”

For example, St. Noel Chabanel had a difficult time adjusting to the languages and customs of the Huron communities he served. Meanwhile, Sts. Gabriel Lalemant and René Goupil embraced the mission field even though both had poor health and St. Goupil was deaf.

“If they can love like that, I can love my kids, love my family, my neighbours like that,” said Way.

Way, who has a BA in writing from the University of Victoria, was a “voracious reader” as a child and dreamed about publishing her own works since her teen years. “This is something I’ve been planning to do for 20 years, I just never thought it would be a kids’ saint book.”

The book is available on Amazon.

(The B.C. Catholic)

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