COLORADO SPRINGS. The Diocese of Colorado Springs is once again hosting the Totus Tuus program, which is taking place at 19 parishes around the diocese this summer. The program is broken into two age groups — a day program for elementary-age kids and a night program for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. This year, there are nine college students and seminarians leading Totus Tuus.
In accordance with St. John Paul II’s motto, Totus Tuus (“Totally Yours”) is a program that encourages kids to learn and dedicate themselves to the Catholic faith in a way that makes them belong more fully to Jesus.
Catholic faith in a way that makes them belong more fully to Jesus.
This year, the overall themes are The Joyful Mysteries and The Mystery of Salvation. Every day, classes cover topics related to the theme and each day is dedicated to one of the Joyful mysteries.
The elementary program uses a combination of games, skits, and classroom time. A highlight of Totus Tuus is daily Mass and confession opportunities, and one of the goals is making the Holy Eucharist a centerpiece of the daily schedule.
“There’s so many little blessings throughout the day, from watching them embrace the Mass, to seeing their energy and excitement at the games, to being blown away by their inquisitiveness and intelligence in class,” said Miriam Pritschet, one of the Totus Tuus leaders. “It’s amazing to see how much they already know, and how inquisitive and eager to discover more they are! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to see God working so powerfully in the lives of the kids and youth.”
The evening program for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers has a similar format, but the material is more advanced so as to be age appropriate. Leaders give moving testimonials and, alongside the nightly eucharistic adoration and confession opportunities, balance them with fun activities such as marshmallow wars.
Colorado Springs is one of 28 dioceses in the United States that offers the Totus Tuus program. Hosting Totus Tuus is not necessarily easy, but according to the kids and teachers it is definitely rewarding.
“I like the skits the teachers put on — they’re always so funny!” said Margaret, who attended Totus Tuus at Corpus Christi Parish.
“My favorite part is singing ‘The Summons’ at daily Mass,” said Rose, another Corpus Christi attendee.
“I think it’s cool that we got to go to Mass every day!” said Michael, who attended Totus Tuus at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Colorado Springs.
Totus Tuus leaders go through a careful application process as well as a week of training to prepare for their summer of teaching catechism and helping kids to growth in the faith. Each Totus Tuus team includes about nine teachers who visit different parishes, and over the course of the summer, each team serves around 400 kids.
“Having a chance to work with so many amazing people on a team has been such a blast, and a real blessing! It’s amazing to see everything fall into place, as such unique and different people come together to share the faith and serve —and of course to goof off and have fun! I think it must speak to the goodness of God in each individual that after a long and completely exhausting day, we’re still able to put up with each other, and even enjoy hanging out,” said Emma Hanson, a student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, who is one of this summer’s Totus Tuus leaders.
Families in the diocese host the Totus Tuus teachers as they move from parish to parish throughout the summer.
“It is such a joy getting to spend time with so many wonderful families,” said Totus Tuus leader Peter Shearon of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. “From being welcomed into their homes to stay for the week to simply sharing a delicious meal with them, I’ve been so struck by the depth of generosity and hospitality and warmth that everyone has shown us. Seeing God in so many different families is such a blessing!”
“Not only is it a miraculous experience to watch young Catholics grow in knowledge about their faith, it is also equally beautiful to see them develop life-long friendships that will continue to shape their future once they have left their parents’ homes,” said Anthony Ambuul, who is studying at St. Gregory the Great college seminary in Seward, Nebraska.
This year, Totus Tuus celebrates the accomplishment of teaching over 100,000 youth over the course of more than 20 years. For more information about the program, including dates locations for upcoming camps, visit www.diocs.org/Education/Total-Catholic-Education/Totus-Tuus.