By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — After receiving lessons on Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, a group of third- and fourth-graders entered Sacred Heart Church on the Prince of Peace Catholic School campus for adoration. Their young adult leader, Cameron Costello, was amazed as he witnessed his Totus Tuus participants kneel down at the altar and begin to pray in silence. “They were quiet for seven whole minutes,” he said, noting that the sight of the reverent children was “the most precious thing I ever saw. It was very heartwarming.”
Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish is the first of four diocesan parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer; it’s the first time the program has been offered in the Diocese of Davenport. Totus Tuus, Latin for “totally yours,” is a youth program focused on digging deep into Catholic teaching, catechesis and vocations. In Clinton, first-graders through sixth-graders participated in day sessions and middle school and high school students met in the evening. Many of the older youths volunteered during the elementary sessions.
Young adults and seminarians traditionally lead Totus Tuus. This year’s leaders are Nick Marie, a member of St. James Parish in Washington; Jasmin Tone, a member of the Newman Center at the University of Iowa; Costello, a seminarian from St. Ann Parish in Long Grove; and Emily Browne, a member of Ss. Philip & James Parish in Grand Mound. Browne was unable to participate in the Clinton program but will be joining Marie, Tone and Costello for the remaining three programs.
Each age group learned about the sorrowful mysteries, the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the beatitudes, virtues, religious life, vocations and the Eucharist in age-appropriate lessons, Marie said. Lessons lasted 25 to 30 minutes, with breaks for team-building activities, a snack or meal.
Costello said this type of schedule was especially helpful with the younger kids; just as they’d start to get restless, it would be time for a scheduled physical activity or snack break. The elementary-aged youths said the activities – including outdoor water games on the last day – were their favorite parts of the week. Costello said he was impressed at how much of the lesson material the students retained from one day to the next. The students also celebrated Mass, and those who wished to do so could go to confession.
The middle and high school participants said one of the most memorable aspects of the week was playing a game of fly swatter hockey in which they used fly swatters to hit ping pong balls into buckets. The educational aspects of the program were just as memorable, said Hansi Hudson, 14. He said the lesson on married life went beyond the superficial and explained church teaching on marriage, children, divorce and more.
He liked that the young adult leaders were easy to relate to. “The program was great not just because of what we learned but how it helped us know how we should be as Christians going forward.”
Sydney Kaup, 14, learned a lot from a question and answer session with the leaders. “It was nice that three different people could answer our questions,” she said. The question and answer that stuck out in her mind was about how to evangelize if the other person doesn’t seem interested. “They said that we can invite the person to come with us to church and see what it’s like, but the most important thing is living out our lives as Catholic Christians. People tend to pay attention to how you live your life maybe more than what you say.”
Marie helped with another diocese’s Totus Tuus program last summer and said he was pleased with the turnout and the youths’ response to Totus Tuus in Clinton. About 35 youths attended.
Brenda Bertram, director of religious education at Prince of Peace Parish, said she was grateful for the opportunity to host a Totus Tuus program. “It’s such a joy to see the faith alive in our young children,” she said.
Upcoming Totus Tuus programs
Columbus Junction is hosting Totus Tuus this week. Youths can still sign up for the following:
St. Mary, West Point (five-parish youth ministry): June 22-26, grades 1-6 during the day and grades 7-12 in the evening. Parish contact: Michael Linnenbrink (319) 837-8905
St. Mary, Riverside (Riverside, Richmond, Wellman cluster): June 29- July 3, grades 1-6 during the day and grades 7-12 in the evening. Parish contact: Joel Baumgartner (319) 648-2331).