Imagine living the life of church mouse. Spending fun-filled days tucked away in a corner, scampering under pews, swimming in the baptismal font and running across the organ keys. Imagine the fragrance of incense and beeswax; the sights, conversations and experiences happening all around. Imagine eavesdropping on stories relayed from parishioner to parishioner.
Following a conversation last January with her brother-in-law about sacristan work, Nancy Lauzon, of Salem, began thinking about the possible experiences an imaginary mouse residing in a Catholic church might have. The thoughts kept her from sleeping that night, so she got up and began to write the book, “Quiet Aza Mouse.”
“I worked on this for weeks, as more ideas came into my mind; it was so much fun,” she said. “My mind wandered about the thoughts of what this mouse could hear and see in a church – and I know that the Holy Spirit really inspired me throughout the whole process.”
The result was a 100-page chapter book geared to elementary school children with second through fourth grade reading levels. The story chronicles the mouse who finds herself in a church. After having numerous adventures within the building, she accidentally finds herself outside and living among the homeless. In order to save herself, as well as others, she needs to confront and overcome her own fears.
“The mouse is inspired to find a way to help the homeless person, who had earlier saved her life,” explained Lauzon. “She decides to help start a soup kitchen and
If you want to buy
“Quiet Aza Mouse” is available
community for homeless people. The story’s message is to be aware of people, their needs and to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Lauzon, 64, has been married to her husband, Bill, for 41 years. The couple has a son in New York, and two daughters in the area, as well as three granddaughters. They are members of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Brighton.
After 30 years of teaching, Lauzon retired two years ago from Providence Catholic School.
“I taught three years in the public school system and then taught first and second grade at St. John the Baptist School and continued on after it became Providence,” she said. “I taught 25 years there. Now, I devote most of my time to taking care of my 2-year-old granddaughter, Isabella, while my daughter Shannon works as a school photographer.”
After the manuscript came together, she self-published it. Lauzon wasn’t interested in having a best seller, but, she wanted to provide children and adults a fun and positive message about overcoming obstacles. Lauzon asked a friend to help her edit the book, and enlisted her sister, Vicki Caucutt, in New Mexico, to illustrate it.
“My sister is an artist and we have talked about doing a children’s book for years. I wanted to write the story and she wanted to do the illustrations; now our dream has come true,” Lauzon said. “I grew up loving books and appreciated the joy of awakening young children to reading. I am an avid reader myself and always need to have a book to read. English was my favorite subject in school and I always loved writing. For years, I have written poetry, and still do. The ‘song’ that Quiet Aza Mouse hears in the book is a little of my poetry.”
Give a smile. Lend a hand.
Help the weary understand.
Raise your voice and move your feet.
With God’s help we cant’ be beat.
Each action that we take,
A better world we’ll help to make.
Moving the idea from her mind to the paperback book was an exercise in overcoming Lauzon’s own fears, as she wrestled with persevering through her own doubts in continuing with the project. After some research, she used Createspace, self-publishing service through Amazon, and with her husband’s help, made the idea a reality.
“I am a complete fan of the “Joshua” books written by Fr. Joe Girzone and those books, which inspire us to live a life like that of Jesus, motivated me to continue,” she said. “I remember one quote in particular from ‘Joshua and Shepherd’ that kept me inspired, ‘Don’t be afraid to use your imagination. God will enlighten you. You are the instrument of God. He will guide you.’ This book was meant to be, and what God wants and I have laid it all in his hands. He has given me the courage to do these things.”
After the book was completed, Lauzon mailed a copy to Fr. Girzone, who also self-published his first book, and expected to hear nothing back. In mid-August, she was surprised to receive an email in return.
Nancy, Thank you so much for your kind letter and your delightful book, which is so much fun to read. I am enjoying it immensely, and will tell others about it.
I hope it finds its market, because I know it will be enjoyed by whoever reads it. It is a lot more exciting for little kids than the corny little stories that are so popular. Keep writing.
In Joshua’s Peace,
The letter taught Lauzon the importance of perseverance, amid doubt.
“If you feel inspired, follow your dreams to write,” she said. “Persevere even if you start doubting or if the task seems too difficult. A good support system to encourage and help you is a must. If you want your words to inspire others, it’s worth a sometimes rocky journey. If you believe in yourself, do what it takes to make your dream come true. For me, that involves faith and prayer as well.”
Lauzon is promoting her book through various book signings and recently signed books at Providence School, St. Francis Xavier and St. John the Baptist Parish in Paris. She donated all of the proceeds to the school and the parishes.
“I wanted to get the message of the book out and to give back to the school and the parishes as they are all so very dear to me,” she said.
For her pastor, Fr. Russ Arnett, the book signing and Lauzon’s decision to donate her profits to the churches and school are typical of her generosity and love of her Catholic faith.
“Her book is wonderful. It is both a fanciful story and a spiritual metaphor that demonstrates humility in a person’s life and in a community,” he said, adding her decision to donate proceeds to the religious education program sends a “wonderful message” to the parish.
“She is an exceptionally giving person. She taught in this parish school for a number of years and still the education of these kids in the Catholic faith is very important to her,” he said, noting she is a convert. “She converted on her own and not through marriage or anything. She became Catholic because she liked what the Catholic Church professed to believe. She is also a wonderful story.”
While the book’s setting is in a Catholic church, Lauzon hopes it has an ecumenical audience and draws in those who share her love for Jesus.
“I hope that it will invite others to react and listen to one another in a kind and respectful way, to see the needs of others, and offer a kind word or an ‘atta boy.’” she explained. “I hope it makes a positive difference in someone’s life. I treated my students this way and didn’t have any real discipline problems. I respected them and they did me – we cared about each other and the rest came together.”
Lauzon plans a sequel to her book on the subject of bullying.
“I worked on that and attitudes with my students,” she said. “This is something that is sorely needed these days. It would be putting faith together with social action and those two things work well together.”