Three teams of Totus Tuus missionaries have been visiting parishes throughout the Jefferson City diocese, offering children and young adults an opportunity to grow in knowledge of their faith in a fun and engaging environment.
“Especially in this time, it is so important to remind youth that they are not alone,” stated Natalie Clark, a member of St. Joseph parish in Edina.
She is one of 12 Totus Tuus missionaries serving in the diocese this summer.
“We are college-age students who are on fire with the faith and desiring to serve the youth of our diocese,” she said. “We desire to give them an opportunity to encounter God. Ultimately, it’s for the salvation of souls.”
This year’s Totus Tuus curriculum focuses on the Ten Commandments and the moral life of the Church, as well as faith and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
“Totus Tuus” is Latin for “Totally Yours,” which was Pope St. John Paul II’s papal motto.
Logistic concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing have required some creative thinking on behalf of the missionary teams.
“The safety of the children is our utmost priority,” Ms. Clark noted. “We have had to adjust how we deliver our content. The program is altered to fit to regulations specific to each parish.”
They also spent a few days on the grounds of Holy Guardian Angels Church in Brinktown and the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenburg, developing a virtual experience for the children who have had to let go of their Totus Tuus experience.
“That helped us stretch and grow as teammates in new ways,” she said. “We learned a lot. It’s a constant exercise in saying ‘yes’ to a new beautiful challenge.”
The group is also carving out a social-media presence at diojeffcitytotustuus on Instagram.
“The whole experience has made the program more accessible and well-known,” said Ms. Clark. “We have learned to remain open and adaptable. Because this is a difficult journey, the fruit is so much sweeter.”
This is Ms. Clark’s first year serving on the Totus Tuus team.
“I kind of brushed it off because I didn’t know how I felt about giving of my summer,” she said.
She met with John DeLaporte, the diocese’s director of youth ministry and religious education, and he encouraged her to apply.
“I took that leap into the unknown and I’m so glad I did,” she said.
It has provided numerous unexpected opportunities for her to step into leadership positions that I was not expecting.
“It has also presented a lot of moments to grow in virtue,” she said. “When you pray for patience, God truly gives you opportunities to practice patience.”
She said the parishes the missionaries have visited so far have been very welcoming and hospitable.
“We’ve observed a rejuvenated level of excitement from parishes that are eager to minister to the youth,” she said. “We have definitely been able to see Christ in all of the children we’ve encountered. The Holy Trinity is present in authentic relationships that we’ve been able to form in such a short time.”
Dates still open
The missionaries still have some open dates this summer.
Mr. DeLaporte said parishioners who “would like to bring a team of faith-filled, dynamic missionaries” to their parish should contact their pastor, check their parish calendars and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how.
“We have open and eager hearts, ready to serve based on exactly what your parish needs,” said Ms. Clark. “If you have even an inkling of a desire to host the program, do it!”
She asked for prayers for the three Totus Tuus teams in the diocese, specifically for openness, perseverance and courage.
“We are here to plant the seeds,” she said. “Please pray that the seeds we plant bear fruit in the lives of all we encounter.”