Meet ‘Super’ St. Joseph in New Comic Book by Father Calloway
Holy Family head is hero in new graphic novel that includes daily consecration to St. Joseph.
Love St. Joseph and comic books?
The graphic novel The Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, by Marian Father Donald Calloway, is for you.
Each page is full of colorful details, with an engaging family of a mother, father and their five children who want to learn about St. Joseph. Along with the colorful graphics, the dialogue is lively and engaging.
Detailed illustrations by Sam Estrada include a scene showing a playful St. Joseph and a laughing Baby Jesus. Also included: what tradition says is the wedding date of Joseph and Mary.
As the presses were rolling, Father Calloway spoke with the Register about the appeal of this graphic novel.
Why did you decide to write this follow-up to your two books on Consecration to St. Joseph as a graphic novel?
The illustrator, Sam Estrada, is an incredible Catholic and an incredible illustrator for these kinds of things. He had already done two on his own, one on Our Lady of Fatima and one on Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was so impressed that I thought, “Wow, I should do something like this employing his talents.” That was a few years ago. I thought I was going to do one on the Rosary, and I just got super busy with my priestly ministries and wasn’t able to do that.
With my book Consecration to St. Joseph being so popular, I resurfaced that idea. I said, “It would be a mistake not to do something for younger people that really draws them with the art.” I contacted Sam, and he said he would love to do it.
How did you decide on using that family as characters along with you for this book? That’s something else that works well.
In Sam’s other two books, he has something similar. But he doesn’t have it from a family perspective. For example, in the book on Our Lady of Fatima, he has Sister Lucia dos Santos talking to several children and explaining the whole story. So he said to me, “Father, what do you want the storyline to be like? How are you going to present the material?” And I thought, “I haven’t thought about it.” Then I looked at his books, and I said, “I have an idea. Why don’t we have a family with adopted children at the shrine, and I will be the priest who just said Mass. They want to learn about St. Joseph.” So we came up with the children and their names and where they were from, and it just worked perfectly.
The question-and-answer format, especially using the children, is so engaging. Do you think youngsters will have an enthusiastic response to this book?
Big time. I’ve already heard because, although it’s hot off the press, people are receiving it in the mail right now. I was just contacted yesterday by a mother. She sent me a picture of her two children who each received a copy. And they’re just consuming it. But she said the format of those questions makes the children interested, and they want to know the answers. And then they keep reading. She said they read it in one day.
Why will this book appeal to and help every member in the family?
The audience is for children and for adults. It’s a big book, a good size. So I can see parents sitting down with their children. The book is big enough to be on both of their laps so they can be looking at it together and reading through it, just like a family way of reading a book together. I definitely see that happening.
I can envision the children asking their parents questions that will inspire them to look for answers in one of your other books on St. Joseph to find the answers. The prayers are a terrific addition, too, including the daily consecration to St. Joseph that you wrote. How might this inspire readers, too?
Maybe the family could pray the Litany of St. Joseph together. That would be wonderful, because some of these prayers didn’t appear in the other books.
I thought, “Families are going to read this, so let’s put in a family consecration to St. Joseph.” I think that’s going to be really popular.
Please share your thoughts on graphic novels as a good way of reaching youth, with their appealing format.
I’ve heard from a lot of laypeople and also professionals in the business of printing and publishing that graphic novels are very popular right now. You’ve got all these heroes, and all these things are very popular. People have said to me that this generation right now is very much into visual things.
Some people may not pick up and just read a big book like the Consecration to St. Joseph. But if they see that the book has lots of images, and has a storyline, and it’s something that’s not intimidating, like 400 pages — this has only 84 pages — it’s going to be attractive to people, I think especially to young people.
I believe that it will appeal to adults, too, because it appealed to me. What is one thing that will especially appeal to adults and one that will especially appeal to children?
Not every adult is necessarily a theologian, in the sense that they didn’t study theology. Maybe they don’t know the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. That’s the norm for most Catholics. This book, even though it comes across as a comic book or graphic novel, is deep, but it’s presented in a way that’s for everybody. You don’t have to be a theologian.
I think for children, as you can tell from the art, Sam has got an incredible skill, with the way that he has illustrated this.
Right now, there are all these art forms, all these different kinds of ways of presenting that it really pops out at you — the colors, the different scenes, the way of presenting something from a different angle, like as if you’re looking from the floor up sometimes or the ceiling view.
The creativity of this book for young people is cutting-edge. It’s right up there with what is being done in the secular world.
You even include expert “witnesses” in art and words, so to speak, like Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Ávila, Andre Bessette, Pius X and John Paul II, with their exceptional thoughts about St. Joseph. Why did you decide to add this?
For Consecration to St. Joseph, I did so much research, gathering quotes from saints and popes, that I thought it would be kind of lacking if I didn’t include this somehow in the book. So I thought, “We can have Sam draw them. I’ll supply the quotes, and we’ll get all of these great things from these great people in there.”
And it’s all scene-based: If I’m talking about the age of St. Joseph, I’ll have quotes from a particular saint on that topic.
If we’re talking about the heart of Joseph or if we’re talking about his purity, I have some great quotes from other saints.
So it really works well, as you said, to back up what I’m teaching to this family. You’ve got saints affirming it.
In several memorable scenes, you have such a friendly, personal way of enlightening the family when they ask you about devotions to St. Joseph or what your favorite titles for him are. Why did you add those?
I wanted to add those because you want it to be a book that is not just read, but people will read it and maybe they are going to start up a new devotion.
Maybe they’re going to be inspired by that: “Maybe I can honor St. Joseph on Wednesday”; “maybe I could start to pray the Litany of St. Joseph on a regular basis.” So there’s the swing, and the follow through, and knock the ball out of the park with the book, to get people, especially young people, to have a devotion to him.
Why did you decide to include appearances by St. Joseph in later centuries?
I think young children are going to be fascinated by that.
They’re intrigued by those kinds of things, and that’s going to pique their interest.
All the spiritual insights should certainly inspire readers to greater devotion to St. Joseph. Do you see this book as leading readers to the Consecration to St. Joseph?
Absolutely. At the end, in the book, I actually have myself in the cartoon way letting the family know, and meaning every reader, about how they can do the other consecration programs, the regular one and the one for families and children: the regular one in Consecration to St. Joseph and the one for families and children in Consecration to St. Joseph for Children and Families.