St. Patrick’s Summer: A Children’s Adventure Catechism by Marigold Hunt.
I cannot sing the praises of this book highly enough. It is a hundred times better than any dry catechism I have tried to use. I suppose there might be a few things it doesn’t cover (though if there are, I can’t think what they are off the top of my head, I’d have to look and see) and I suppose there are questions and answers one should still memorize, but they just don’t capture the imagination like this “adventure catechism” does.
I’d been seeing recommendations for years on various Catholic homeshooling forums. And we really enjoyed Marigold Hunt’s A Life of Our Lord for Children and also her The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children. Both were excellent books. And despite my fears about the cutesy premise, this proved to be even better. I wish I had a dozen more by her that were just as good.
Set in 1950s England, the story follows Michael and Cecilia, two children who haven’t made their first communion, despite being older than the average first communicants. The problem is they aren’t properly catechized and their teacher is in despair because they ask too many questions she can’t answer. So she asks St Patrick for his help. And he answers her prayers by taking over the catechesis himself with help from Eve, Abraham, St Cecilia, St Michael, and a local priest who was martyred during the Elizabethan period.
They learn about the trinity, heaven and hell, sacrifice and prayer, the Mass, persecutions in the Church, and much more.
The one part of the book that doesn’t really hold up is the chapter about the Mass, which of course describes the old Latin Mass. But even there it wasn’t hard to pause and talk about the changes in the Mass, which was also a helpful conversation. I would love to find a book that talks about the current ordinary form Mass in the same helpful way that this book does.
St Patrick’s Summer has been a favorite read for Bella and Sophie, Ben, and even Anthony have all sat in on a chapter here and there as well. And I’ve enjoyed reading it aloud as well. The prose is fluid and graceful and I never feel I’m stumbling. The story is engaging and the catechism lessons are so very well done, an integral part of the story, never boring, always relevant. And the children are excellent stand-ins, asking questions, forgetting the answers, needing to be quizzed and reminded.
My own family has had many delightful conversations inspired by our reading, really digging in. I definitely foresee reading this one again and again. It will hold up well.