Genre

Biography, Historical, Graphic Novel

Audience

All Ages

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2021

Themes

love, love of the poor, charity, missionaries, faith, biography, vocations

 

Reviewed by

Dr. Lisa Theus

“Don’t worry. Nothing will be all right!” This counterintuitive statement from Fr. Joe Walijewski shows his radical faith in God – nothing’s all right by our own efforts, but God can make things right. How did this man get such faith? 

Champion of the Poor depicts the life of Fr. Joe Walijewski, the son of Polish immigrants in Michigan. He lived from 1924-2006 and worked as a priest in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as a missionary in South America (Bolivia and Peru). Inspired by the movie Boys Town, young Joe has a childhood dream of becoming a priest and making a home for homeless boys and girls. He also feels called to serve in South America. He faces difficulties: his ability to pass seminary, the challenge of moving to South America, and the uphill struggle to find resources to help those most in need. But he perseveres and displays great faith – and introduces the great faith of people in Peru to the rest of the Church.

As in The Tale of Patrick Peyton, the team at Voyage Comics brings to life a little-known priest on the way to sainthood. It’s an excellent contribution to the cause for Fr. Joe’s canonization, now at the Servant of God stage, and an easy introduction to a Catholic role model for young audiences.

The art is of the same excellent quality one sees across Voyage Comics publications. The characters are rendered with a realistic eye, and the text is easy to read.

The story is well-framed, with Fr. Joe giving a summary of his own past, so that the narrative can focus around his desire to fulfill his vocation of building an orphanage. It is an enjoyable, brief read that can appeal to any Catholic who wants to know more about contemporary spiritual role models. I would rate this book E for Everyone – in terms of content and complexity. It’s simple and straightforward enough for young audiences, but the content is also interesting for older Catholic audiences. The graphic novel makes for great history-based entertainment, introducing readers to something not well known and inspiring them to learn more.

The information about canonization would probably not interest Protestant or secular readers. The purpose of the book is to invite readers to pray for Fr. Joe’s intercession and canonization. But Catholics looking to show young readers good, modern stories will want to grab this graphic novel. It is a great reminder that saints come from humble backgrounds and aren’t always internationally famous. Saints start like everyone else, but show an extraordinary trust in God.

A Life Decision by Laurie M. Lamb

When Joe and Peyton find out that their unborn baby may have Down Syndrome, they are faced with a devastating decision.

Finnian and the Seven Mountains (Vol. 1) by Philip Koslowski, Michael Lavoy, and Jim Fern

Join Finnian as his quest for a legendary sword takes him to the monks of Skellig Michael, a real life inspiration for the Jedi temple.

The Mission of Joan Of Arc by Philip Kosloski, Alexandre Nascimento, and Jesse Hansen

Voyage Comics’ dynamic interpretation of the Life of Joan of Arc is based on the play written by St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby by Adrienne Thorn

Sydney writes romances but living her own romance will require more courage than anything yet required of her.

Finnian and the Seven Mountains (Vol.2) By, Philip Kosloski and Michael Lavoy

Can one map be the key to stopping the Viking Invasion?

The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers

Experience Christ through the eyes of Jotham, his disabled disciple.

Revelation by Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor takes us into the mental experience of one of those people Jesus condemned.

Bread from Home by Fr. Stephen Siniari

We all hunger for the same food from heaven. A collection of short stories exploring an Albanian Orthodox church community, their Catholic and Evangelical neighbors, and the hunger for heaven that unites them all.

The City Mother By Maya Sinha

She didn’t believe in good and evil, until she became a mother…

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

The Boy Who Knew (Friends in High Places: Carlo Acutis) by Corinna Turner

Faced with his death, a fifteen-year-old learns how to live through the wisdom of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

Best Books of 2022

Our favorite book finds of the year!

Relic of His Heart by Jane Lebak

An atheist midwife has no idea what she’s in for when she makes a deal with an angel.

Jonah’s Voyage to Atlantis by Voyage Comics

What if Jonah had traveled through the underworld while trapped inside the whale?

Three Last Things or The Hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin by Corinna Turner

The last day of a convicted murderer’s life: Can he save his soul in time?

Freeing Tanner Rose by T.M. Gaouette

Hollywood Starlet meets Kung Fu Country boy with a God obsession.

Zeal & Zest: Where to Begin with Hillaire Belloc

Belloc was known as a Catholic polemicist with a vicious talent for skewering his opponents. Anyone struggling to persevere as a Christian in the fields of journalism or media should read him. His children’s books have an acerbic humor that will appeal to bored veterans of political correctness, especially teens.

Absence by Kaye Park Hinckley

Absence will chill you with the stark reminder that human beings are not just bodies, but souls whose spiritual influence cannot be suppressed, even when the bodies have gone missing.

Ghosts of the Faithful by Kaye Park Hinckley

The O’Murphy family gets help from beyond the grave as they deal with long held secrets.

Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

A cloistered nun confronts her faith when she realizes that the private revelations she has been given might be the product of epilepsy.