By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — During the first week of Totus Tuus, elementary-aged youths gathered in classrooms at Prince of Peace Catholic School to learn about David and Goliath.
“Everyone thought David was crazy” for claiming he could defeat Goliath, missionary Renee Thomas told her group. “He was scrappy. He was a little kid!” But David knew he could rely on God’s strength to win the battle.
Later, the youths assembled in the gymnasium to rehearse hymns for Mass. “Wow, you guys sounded so good,” missionary Brynn Beenblossom said after the students sang a verse of “Gather the People.” “You knew all the words!”
Totus Tuus — Latin for “totally yours” — is a weeklong Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and eucharistic worship. Participants explore vocations in a broad sense. This includes priesthood, consecrated life, lay ministry, marriage and the diaconate.
The Diocese of Davenport offers parishes and parish groups the opportunity to host Totus Tuus each year. It is “an excellent program that puts youths in direct contact with witnesses of hope and faith,” said Trevor Pullinger, diocesan director of faith formation and catechesis coordinator. Youths are drawn to the “joy and simplicity” of the program, he added.
Three college students with ties to the Davenport Diocese are leading this year’s program. Thomas is a French horn performance and music education major at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Beenblossom of St. James Parish in Washington studies psychology and pre-speech language pathology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Lindsay Davison of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf studies instrumental music education at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
The three missionaries traveled to the Archdiocese of Dubuque earlier this summer for training. Staff and volunteers at each Totus Tuus location offer housing to the missionaries and assist with the program. “It’s a nice way for me to spend time this summer, knowing I am helping kids learn more about God and the Catholic faith,” Davison said.
Generally, Totus Tuus teams are composed of two men and two women, “but obviously there is discernment and the call that God places on each heart to become a missionary,” Pullinger said. “Please encourage people to pray for our missionaries as they serve our diocese as apostles of hope faith and joy, giving themselves totally to God and to the parishes they visit.”
Elementary students attend Totus Tuus during the day.
The youths “meet” biblical figures and “learn all about how God shows how much he loves each of us,” said Colleen Darland, the diocese’s logistics coordinator.
Maddy George, an incoming sixth-grader, attended Totus Tuus in Clinton. She said she enjoyed the opportunity to “hang out with people while learning about God.” Classmate Jonah Buelow said he enjoys participating in skits because they’re fun and help him better understand the lessons of the day.
Junior and senior high participants gather for an evening program, which has been upgraded this year to “better accompany these young adults and meet the reality of their busy schedules,” Darland said. The evenings now include intentional fellowship, witness talks and ample time for small groups. “This helps give every young person who participates in all five days — or maybe two because of their schedule — the opportunity to encounter an experience of Christ from these missionaries’ testimonies and to reflect on their own experiences in these smaller communities. It’s a very intentional approach, offering an authentic experience of accompaniment and witness in community.”
Parishes in Clinton and Camanche hosted the first week of Totus Tuus in the diocese. Mount Pleasant is hosting Totus Tuus this week (June 19-23). Parishes in Columbus Junction and West Liberty will host July 10-14, followed by Burlington July 17-21, Newton July 24-28 and Solon July 31-Aug. 4.
To register your child for Totus Tuus or to volunteer, contact the hosting parish for your desired week. For more information about the Totus Tuus program go to https://www.davenportdiocese.org/totus-tuus.