By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
As Brenda Bertram walked through Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, observing youths in classrooms learning about the rosary a couple of weeks after this academic year ended, she couldn’t help but smile. “I have so much energy,” said Bertram, director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry for Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish-Clinton. “The kids enjoy this and get so much out of it.”
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Totus Tuus (Latin for “totally yours”) is back in the Diocese of Davenport. “We and the host parishes really wanted to wait until we could provide one of the best Totus Tuus programs that we could, because it’s so interactive,” said Colleen Darland, administrative assistant for the diocesan Office of Vocations.
The Clinton parish was among the first to say “yes” to host the weeklong Totus Tuus program when it became available to diocesan parishes in 2015. “The whole day is focused on love for Jesus, the Eucharist, prayer and a basic understanding of the faith,” Bertram said. The program also helps youths explore vocations in a broad sense. This includes priesthood, consecrated life, lay ministry, marriage and the diaconate.
Eight parishes will host or co-host the program this summer. “When the announcement was made to move forward with Totus Tuus this year, we had four first-time host parishes express interest,” Darland said. “Several other parishes reached out wanting to know more, but schedules didn’t line up for them this year.” That interest encourages her and she hopes more parishes will be able to host Totus Tuus next year.
Three young adults —Vanessa Millman, Madeline Murphy and William Keating — are leading this year’s program with assistance from parish volunteers. Millman, a member of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, studies elementary education and theology at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Murphy, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, studies vocal performance, music education and theology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Keating is a diocesan seminarian studying at Loras College and St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. His home parish is St. Patrick in Iowa City.
“We were lucky to find three local young adults who are excited for the summer,” Darland said. “The missionary experience is a phenomenal opportunity for these young adults to grow their faith and build up their own relationship with God while sharing the beauties of our Catholic faith with the children in our parishes. The experience is really as much for the missionaries as it is for the children.”
Clinton hosted the first session of the summer June 13-17. Other parishes scheduled to host or co-host are St. Alphonsus-Mount Pleasant, Sacred Heart-Newton, St. Mary-Grinnell, St. Mary-Solon, St. Mary-Oskaloosa, St. Mary-Pella, St. Patrick-Iowa City and St. Wenceslaus-Iowa City. Anyone interested in helping with behind-the-scenes work or praying for the fruitfulness of the program should reach out to the host parishes, Darland said. “Some volunteer roles require VIRTUS certification, so please note if you are already trained and up to date when you reach out to them.”