By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Youths will have an opportunity to explore their Catholic faith and their place in the church through one of four Totus Tuus programs this summer.
Totus Tuus — Latin for “totally yours” — is a week-long Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship.
This year marks the first time the Totus Tuus program has been available to parishes in the Davenport Diocese. Totus Tuus programs are offered in many dioceses around the country, including the Sioux City and Des Moines dioceses in Iowa. The Archdiocese of Dubuque is also starting a Totus Tuus program this year.
The diocesan Office of Vocations is offering the program at no cost to participating youths, thanks to the generosity of private donors. One goal of the program is to help youths explore vocations in a broad sense. This includes priesthood, consecrated life, lay ministry, marriage and the diaconate.
Father Thom Hennen, diocesan director of vocations, said, “I wanted to do something during summer that was vocations related. A lot of dioceses have that in place and we didn’t.” He said Nick Marie, a member of St. James Parish in Washington who helped the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, with its Totus Tuus program last summer, was helpful in the planning process.
Marie said of Totus Tuus, “I have seen personally that it sets youths’ hearts on fire and really inspires them. …I see it doing much good for the youth of our diocese.” He also mentioned that the program differs from vacation Bible school due to its emphasis on vocation.
Earlier this year, the Office of Vocations contacted diocesan parishes to see who would be interested in giving the program a try. The four parishes hosting Totus Tuus programs this summer are Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton; St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction; St. Mary Parish in West Point (Five Parish Youth Ministry); and St. Mary Parish in Riverside (Riverside, Richmond, Wellman Cluster). Participating youths need not belong to the hosting parishes.
As is customary with the Totus Tuus program, four college students and seminarians will serve as teachers. Marie will be among the teachers. The hosting parish will house the young adult teachers.
Father Joseph Sia, pastor of the Columbus Junction parish, thought the program would be a great asset to youths in his community. “I was attracted to the program be-cause it offers daily Mass, confession, adoration, and focuses on vocations in general, which I think is good for the kids. And the name itself – Totus Tuus – I think they can learn a lot from it.”
Father Ken Kuntz, pastor of the Clinton parish, said, “We chose Totus Tuus because it sounds like a fun and exciting way for our children and youth to connect with their faith and a possible vocation. We are always looking for new ways to evangelize the children and youth of our parish.”
Mike Linnenbrink, youth minister of the Catholic parishes in West Point, Houghton, St. Paul, Fort Madison and Farmington, sees Totus Tuus as an excellent opportunity for youths. He hopes for a good turnout. “Fr. Hennen and I have had conversations about programs that we could have in the local parish for vocations. … So, when I received the information from him about Totus Tuus, I thought of our (youths) and signed our parishes up. … I feel that when the diocese offers programs for our parish members, we need to take advantage of these.
“I look forward to walking with the kids and their families as we experience Totus Tuus this summer,” Linnenbrink said.