By Ben Snyder
For The Catholic Messenger
Rule number one at Conception Seminary College: if you don’t know where a seminarian is from, guess Wichita, Kan. With around 20 of their seminarians studying at CSC, hearing about “Wichita things” can get really old, really fast, initially. However, after two years of seminary, I have several good friends from Wichita. A couple weeks ago I found myself in that city training to do one of those “Wichita things:” Totus Tuus.
Started by a priest in Wichita, the Totus Tuus program takes its name from the Latin motto used by St. John Paul II which means “Totally Yours.” I discovered my first year in seminary that it also is the name of a summer program for kids. My first roommate (I bet you can guess the diocese he was from) had just finished teaching for Totus Tuus and constantly shared stories about it. I brushed it off as a “Wichita thing,” but soon learned that other dioceses were doing this program. Then, last summer, the Diocese of Davenport formed a team to teach Totus Tuus for the first time. I decided to join the team this year and went to Wichita for training with four other young adults from the diocese. By day two, I was hooked.
Totus Tuus is an amazing program for youths to continue learning about their faith for one week during the summer. Modeled after traditional Vacation Bible School programs, Totus Tuus is a totally Catholic program that covers main points of the Catholic faith in a six-year cycle. Topics range from the Creed to sacraments to virtues. This year’s program covers prayer, such as the Our Father, and the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. The classes are taught by a team of four young adults (actually five for the Davenport Diocese this year) who travel from parish to parish for a week at a time. During the day, we will teach first through sixth-graders and in the evenings, a middle/high school program.
As a seminarian, the part of Totus Tuus that most excites me is participating in the “New Evangelization.” In seminary, we are constantly trained to be a “public figure” and “spread the Gospel,” but that is hard to do in a seminary setting and it’s easy to lose focus.
During one day of training in Wichita we visited a local parish for a “practice day” of Totus Tuus, which made our training feel real. Seeing the kids so excited to learn about the faith and to be at Totus Tuus made me realize that this is the future of the church and I get to be a part of this. I was excited to get started and spread the Gospel to young minds for the summer.
Week 1 is wrapping up at Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. Parish contact is Brenda Bertram.
Week 2 will be held at St. Mary, West Point (five parish youth ministry) June 20-24 for grades 1-6 during the day and grades 7-12 in the evening. Parish contact is Michael Linnenbrink.
Week 3 will be held at St. Joseph Parish, Columbus Junction June 27-July 1, grades 1-6 during the day. Parish contact is Father Joseph Sia.
Week 4 will be held at Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington July 18-22 for grades 7-12 in the evening. Parish contact is Amanda Nichols.
Week 5 will be held at St. Mary Parish, Riverside (Riverside, Richmond, Wellman cluster) July 25-29 for grades 1-6 during the day. Parish contact is Joel Baumgartner.