Totus Tuus missionaries reaching out to youth for third summer

Visiting parishes June 11-Aug. 4 for six-day sessions

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — An energetic team of Totus Tuus missionaries are brining the message of Christ to the youth of the archdiocese for the third time this summer, with an intense seven-week schedule of parish visits that began June 11 and will run through Aug. 4.

“I’m looking forward to working with the kids,” said Danielle Besler, who joined the team for the first time this year after being encouraged by a friend.

Each missionary brings his or her own talents and passion to the experience, with Besler aiming to use her musical skills, especially with the guitar, piano and ukulele, to engage children during six-day sessions at various locations.

Totus Tuus is a catechetical program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith among children and youth.

Totus Tuus is a Latin phrase meaning “Totally Yours,” which was the motto of Pope St. John Paul II. It is taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” and expresses the desire to give oneself entirely to Jesus through his mother.

The summer program that took its name from that same Latin phrase was begun in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, in 1993 and has now spread to dioceses throughout the country.

The program uses a combination of evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and eucharistic worship during six-day sessions to reach out to young people at participating parishes. Programs are held during the day for students in first through sixth grades. An evening program is held for students in grades seven through 12.

“It made me more excited to be a priest,” said Martin Coolidge, a seminarian for the archdiocese who is coming back for his second year with Totus Tuus. “It’s a real mission.”

Coolidge hopes he and his colleagues can help the youth they work with to “have that personal encounter with Jesus and the church.”

Ben Valentine, another seminarian who is returning to the team this year for a second time, said to keep participants interested, the missionaries have learned the importance of “having high energy for the kids.”

There are 13 missionaries this summer and two alternates. The team will spread out into smaller groups to cover programs at parishes across the expanse of the archdiocese, including in Dubuque, Charles City, Waterloo and many other places. A new feature added this time around is weekly Friday night gatherings where the entire team will get together to discuss how things are going, according to Jerry McGrane, a theology and social studies teacher at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville who is serving as the team manager.   

“This is the first time we’ve had this much experience,” said McGrane, of this year’s missionary team.

McGrane is excited to see how that experience aids in the spiritual growth of the missionaries and the youth to whom they are ministering.

Totus Tuus 2017 Schedule

Week #1 (June 11-16)

• Holy Spirit, Dubuque

   (Contact Jessica Rauen)

• Immaculate Conception,

  Charles City

  (Contact Dcn. Michael Ward)

• Spires of Faith Cluster, Dyersville

  (Contact Chelsea Evett)

Week #2 (June 18-23)

• Blessed Trinity Cluster, Manchester

   (Contact Kathy Oberreuter)

• St. Henry, Marshalltown

  (Contact Bethany Jablonski)

• Holy Family, Reinbeck

  (Contact Alyssa Sealman)

Week #3 (June 25-30)

• St. Patrick, Cedar Falls

  (Contact Tracey Ryan-Wiering)

• Good Shepherd Cluster, New Hampton

  (Contact Karen Bonfig)

• St. Mary, Waverly

  (Contact Michelle Stone)

Week #4 (July 9-14)

• St. Joseph, Bellevue

  (Contact Kelsey Kaiser)

• Notre Dame, Cresco

  (Contact Melanie Vobr)

• Archangels Cluster, Forest City/

  Garner (Contact Regina Adams)

Week #5 (July 16-21)

• St. Patrick, Cedar Rapids

  (Contact Geralyn Ward)

• St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames

  (Contact Tyler Wheeler)

• Christ Our Hope Cluster, Lawler

  (Contact Martin Ahrndt)

Week #6 (July 23-28)

• Waterloo Parishes

  (Contact Julie Novotney)

• Trinity Cluster, Monona

  (Contact Father Nils Hernandez)

• St. Patrick, Waukon

  (Contact Michael Erickson)

Week #7 (July 30-Aug 4)

• Christian Family School of Religion,

   Calmar (Contact Patty Frana)

• SS. Peter and Paul, Sherrill

  (Contact Brian Nilles)

Pictured above are this year’s Totus Tuus missionaries (back – l to r) Cecila Bean, Chris Stoker, Kyle Tietz, Jake Dunne, Martin Coolidge, Jeff Frieden, Ben Valentine, Danielle Besler; (front – l to r): Maren Nielsen, Lené Couture, Lizz Parsons, Mara Borer, Jessica Pedersen. (Photo by Dan Russo/The Witness)

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