In 2018, Totus Tuus celebrated its 10th summer catechizing young people in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and beyond, says Kyle Holtgrave, director of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “This year we held 22 sessions,” he says. “There were 16 in this diocese, and others held at Scott Air Force Base, in the Belleville diocese and also in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”
Totus Tuus is a parish-based catechetical program for children grade school through high school. The week-long Catholic summer parish missions are dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechetical instruction, Christian witness, vocational discernment, Marian devotion and eucharistic worship.
This year’s focus was on the Apostle’s Creed and the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. The phrase Totus Tuus (Latin for “totally yours”) was the motto of St. Pope John Paul II.
“We had 16 college age students teaching and they were broken up into four teams,” Holtgrave says. “Eleven of the leaders were from this diocese.” Father Steve Arisman and Father Adam Prichard were chaplains for this year’s Totus Tuus and newly-ordained Father Dominic Rankin helped as well. Father Arisman was a team leader and seminarian in 2009, when Totus Tuus was new to the Springfield diocese.
Leaders are trained and commissioned to serve the youth of the diocese throughout the summer. The team leaders — both young women and young men — were often busy from early morning until late in the evening. They were lodged with host families who live in the area where they were serving.
For example, on a typical day in a parish where both young students and teens were participating, team leaders began their day at 7 a.m. with breakfast and Morning Prayer and the rosary. Younger students were at Totus Tuus from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. By 3 p.m. the team had cleaned up the program area and were ready for Evening Prayer and for praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. They had recreation time for about 90 minutes before eating at 5 p.m. By 7 p.m. they were back to teaching again, this time for high school students. The evening program was usually dismissed at 9 p.m.
Emily Fleck, a recent graduate of Greenview High School and a member of Holy Family Parish in Athens, just completed her first year as a Totus Tuus team leader. She has been pleased with her Totus Tuus experience and says it was a good way to spend the summer before she heads off to Blackburn College in Carlinville this fall. “It’s been a good thing for me because I’m going to college to become a teacher,” she says. “So, it’s been beneficial and an eye-opener for me.
“Mainly it’s about finding out that there are different ways to teach. You have to find the way that works best for them and it has to work for the teachers, too,” she concludes. “So, it’s about meeting them where they’re at.”