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Totus Tuus summer program for youth returns to parishes this year

Youth program focuses on catechesis, evangelization

Totus Tuus, a catechetical summer program for first- through 12th-graders, will be held this summer in parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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.

The program was introduced in the Wichita, Kansas, 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, Nebraska.

“Our hope is that these Totus Tuus weeks will provide parishes an opportunity to welcome back families and children for a fun, safe and catechetical week over the summer months after being distanced over the past year,” said Amy Eschelbach, director of the Office of Youth Ministry. She noted that one parish coordinator who has hosted the program for three years said, “I know of no other program that so pointedly utilizes the elements of Catholic practice and prayer.”

Totus Tuus will be following local and parish guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols, including adapting group sizes, moving programs outdoors when possible, and working with each parish’s specific situations, she said.

Eschelbach noted that there are a few openings for parishes interested in hosting Totus Tuus. For more information, call (314) 792-7650 or visit www.stlyouth.org.

Totus Tuus

To participate, please contact the individual parish for cost and registration information.

June 7-11

Queen of All Saints, Oakville

Holy Infant, Ballwin

June 14-18

Our Lady, Festus

June 21-25

Ste. Genevieve, Ste. Genevieve

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Oakville

Ascension, Chesterfield

June 28-July 2

Cardinal Rigali Center, Shrewsbury

July 5-9

St. Gabriel, south St. Louis

July 12-16

St. Gerard Majella, Kirkwood

Immaculate Conception, Dardenne

July 19-23

All Saints, St. Peters

Holy Cross Academy, south St. Louis County (two teams)

July 26-30

Sacred Heart, Valley Park

St. Anselm, Creve Coeur

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