By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Washington native Brynn Beenblossom’s face lit up when asked about her experience as a 2023 Totus Tuus missionary. It was “one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said. “I have grown so much in my faith and personal growth.” Experiencing high, low, stressful, silly and fun moments throughout the summer program, along with fellow missionaries, parish staff and youths “was the most raw, beautiful thing.”
She hopes other young adults will consider becoming missionaries for the 2024 program in the Diocese of Davenport. “If you’ve been thinking about it, please pray about it!”
Each year, the diocese selects a small team of college students and seminarians to lead Totus Tuus, a weeklong Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and eucharistic worship. Missionaries travel to participating parishes throughout the diocese, helping youths explore vocations in a broad sense. This includes priesthood, consecrated life, lay ministry, marriage and the diaconate.
Serving as a Totus Tuus missionary is a “journey of faith and service,” said Trevor Pullinger, diocesan director of faith formation and catechesis coordinator. The experience is particularly helpful for young adults considering careers in parish work, teaching, counseling or other kinds of service, he believes. The experience offers missionaries a chance to “get to know a number of parishes and different kinds of communities across the diocese.”
Missionaries participate in a multi-day training session before the program begins and travel as a team to minister to youths in participating parishes and parish groups. Responsibilities include keeping a well-defined daily schedule of prayer and activities, preparing for liturgies, catechetical instruction and organizing daily community-building activities. Missionaries actively promote a safe environment for children and youth, in accordance with diocesan Safe Environment policies.
The 2023 missionaries — Lindsay Davison of Bettendorf, Renee Thomas of Iowa City and Beenblossom — said it was rewarding to see the faith and dedication of parish staff and volunteers each week and to witness the youths’ spiritual growth. Thomas described participants’ joy and energy as contagious.
Staff and volunteers at each Totus Tuus location offer housing to the missionaries and assist with the program. Initially, Davison was nervous about living with host families in new communities. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she admitted. Her apprehension faded as she encountered the welcoming love of people who offered housing. They were “amazing people to come home to,” helping the team make time to relax and get to know their surroundings. Thomas said the families were kind and accommodating. “They want to serve you and share their stories with you and that’s really beautiful.”
Candidates for this paid position should be practicing Catholics in full communion with the Catholic Church, demonstrate a commitment to the Church’s mission, assent to all magisterial teaching, and be at least 18 by May 1, 2024. There is no residency requirement. Read the full description of the position and obtain contact information at:
Pullinger encourages interested individuals to reach out. Parents and parish leaders can also be on the lookout for candidates, he said. “Please ask a young adult in your life if they have ever considered being a Totus Tuus missionary!”