What was it St Mary MacKillop said? “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
Husband and wife design team Mervyn and Liz Soares have just released 40fied – The Kids Magazine, a resource for young Catholics that could happily sit alongside any secular publication; contemporary and engaging, and – of pivotal importance for pre-teens – a delight, and not a punishment, to pick up.
The self-described “staunch Catholics” have spent decades doing work for large corporate clients and in recent years for Catholic organisations, but it was Liz’s 4½ years of teaching catechism to children at a state school which convinced them they had their own contribution to make.
The 40-page, map-inspired magazine features original characters and illustrations coming alive from the Bible, as well as games, fun-facts and activities – even recipes – to teach children about the faith, and to help them see it as a normal and integral part of life.
The boy-girl troopers, Osmund and Olynda, teach children about the “Armour of God”, something Mervyn and Liz envision as having the potential to become a national club for young Catholics.
There’s Meet the Parish family, which follows a typical family and their atypical episodes of day-to-day living.
And then there’s ‘Pilgrim Travis’, featuring an intrepid, pizza-scoffing dove which, in each edition, takes children to different places of worship.
“We really want to intrigue children and to keep them engaged with the God who loves them,” Mervyn told The Catholic Weekly.
“We wanted something that was on par or even better than the secular material that surrounds them.
“And, because we are parents, we wanted it to reinforce catechism classes and to be a real help to our kids as they navigate formative years in their lives.
“It also works as a help to Godparents and grandparents to give to their Godchildren and grandchildren as a fun way of helping to impart the faith.”
A labour of love that the couple financed themselves, the project has already attracted accolades, including from the former Bishop of Broken Bay, Bishop David Walker, who has given the magazine his enthusiastic endorsement.
The first edition of the quarterly publication was issued this month, hot on the heels of one of their other projects, Mediating the Spectrum of Salvation, a Christ-centred colouring book for adults which Mervyn says “is like a personal retreat”.