As she considered what to do this summer, Beth Houser discovered Totus Tuus, a catechetical program for young people.
“This is a real opportunity to give yourself totally,” and to go deeper in sharing the faith with others, she said. “I knew it would challenge me as a person.”
Houser is one of a dozen young adults who will serve as missionary teachers, bringing catechesis, a love for the sacraments and their witness as missionary disciples to parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis this summer.
A program of the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, Totus Tuus has elements of a vacation Bible school and a mission. Taught by young adult catechists, known as “missionary teachers,” participants learn what it means to share the Gospel and how to promote the faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and eucharistic worship.
There are two components: a day program for first- through sixth-graders, and an evening program for seventh- through 12th-graders. Missionary teachers travel from parish to parish and stay with host families while presenting the program in June and July.
Younger children learn how to pray, the importance of prayer and the sacraments, and how to participate in Mass, including why Catholics make the sign of the cross, genuflect and sing. Middle and high school teens focus on prayer and meditation, small-group discussions, adoration, Mass and reconciliation.
Totus Tuus is Latin for “Totally Yours,” St. John Paul II’s motto, taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary.” The program has a noted Marian focus, with a different theme every year that ties into Marian devotions, such as the Rosary. This year, the focus will be on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and the curriculum will be based on the sacraments.
The program was introduced in the Wichita, Kan., diocese in the 1980s when Father Bernard X. Gorges — then a seminarian — taught a catechetical summer program to elementary grade students. Missionary teachers who lead the program undergo training in Lincoln, Neb.
This is the third year the archdiocese has offered the program, said Joe Dobrynski, coordinator of faith programs with Youth Ministry Office. “Every year I am hearing from more parishes and certainly more parents who are excited about sending their children to this program,” he said. The missionary teachers are imparting lessons that “will remain with children their whole life. They’re displaying what spiritual life looks like as a Catholic, which includes a very rich prayer life, a well-formed mind and also includes a loving, fun and crazy heart because you love Jesus first.”
Dobrynski noted that there is one more opening for a parish to host the program the week of June 10-14. For more information, call him at (314) 792-7613 or email JoeDobrynski@archstl.org.
To participate, please contact the individual parish for cost and registration information.
• St. Patrick in Wentzville | (636) 332-9225
• St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Oakville |
• Ascension in Chesterfield | (636) 532-3304
• Queen of All Saints in Oakville |
• Ste. Genevieve in Ste. Genevieve |
• Holy Cross Academy parishes (St. Michael, Annunciation, Our Lady of Providence, Seven Holy Founders, St. John Paul II), to be held at Our Lady of Providence in Crestwood |
• St. Joseph in Imperial | (636) 464-1013
• Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie | (636) 561-6611
• St. Gerard Majella in Kirkwood |
• Sacred Heart in Valley Park | (636) 225-5268
• St. Gabriel the Archangel in south St. Louis | (314) 353-6303
• All Saints in St. Peters | (636) 397-1440