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Have a summer that’s ‘Totally Yours!’

As summer quickly approaches, youth programming throughout the Archdiocese of Denver will soon be in full swing. Among the many options for youth programming is Totus Tuus, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver.

The program’s name comes from St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. The traditional Latin phrase, which means “totally yours,” was popularized in recent history by Pope St. John Paul II, who took it as his papal motto. “Totus Tuus” is addressed to the Blessed Mother and signifies the faithful’s deep devotion to Mary, even to the point of praying to belong to her completely.

Later this month, more than 20 young missionaries will gather at Annunciation Heights, the archdiocesan camp, for a week of training before being sent out in teams to parishes all over the archdiocese to run programs for children from grades 1-12.

“I am excited to be a part of what God is planning to do in and through this year’s Totus Tuus missionary teaching team, which is comprised of a dynamic group of young adults including seminarians, NET missionaries, and others actively discerning religious life,” Karin Middleton, family ministry specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver, who is overseeing Totus Tuus in addition to other family faith formation initiatives, told Denver Catholic.

Since its beginning in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, the program has spread to a number of dioceses, said Father Daniel Ciucci, pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Denver, who himself served as a Totus Tuus missionary when he was in seminary.

“It’s characterized by dynamic and orthodox teaching and witnessing of the faith to first through sixth graders by day from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and seventh through twelfth graders by night on Sunday night to Thursday evening from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.,” he continued.

Ultimately, the program’s goal is to give youth the opportunity to have a personal encounter with Jesus while engaging with the teachings of the Church.

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“In alignment with the archdiocesan commitment to foster personal encounters with Jesus, Totus Tuus pairs engaging catechesis and relational ministry with children and youth,” Middleton said.

To that end, more than 20 college students and seminarians will undergo training to learn how to evangelize youth and run the programs. During training and throughout the summer, they will have time for prayer, community and ministry.

“Undergrads are formed into teams of four, including seminarians, and they get sent out, two by two. So, they are in teams of four. There are two guys and two girls. And [they] go to seven different parishes throughout the summer teaching the same program,” said Father Ciucci.

The program is broken up into two parts: the first on the Holy Rosary, and the second on the Catechism, Father Ciucci explained.

“One part of the program is focused on one of the mysteries of the Rosary. Every day, the children learn about one mystery of the Rosary, as well as pray that mystery of the Rosary. The rest [of the program] is one of the pillars of the catechism. So, sometimes it’s prayers, sometimes it’s salvation history, sometimes it’s the sacraments,” he said.

Made up of four 20-minute classes throughout the day, the Totus Tuus program is punctuated by formation and fun, with games, skits and activities peppered in for youth participants.

“It’s a time for Totus Tuus to be loud, and, vivacious. So, I think it’s something that’s just very beautiful,” Father Ciucci continued.

The engaging, missionary-led program has brought great fruit over the years, with the teachers benefiting profoundly from their time on mission.

“Ultimately, I think one of the biggest parts of the fruitfulness of Totus Tuus is the teachers. The teachers are invested in training and community life, and then their bid to go out to these parishes to give what they’ve received. And it’s precisely in the giving that they end up receiving more,” Father Ciucci said.

Of the many fruits of Totus Tuus over the years, Father Ciucci pointed to the vocations that have been born through the program.

“It’s a very formative experience that has given birth to vocations of the priesthood and religious life and the intentional undertaking of holy matrimony. It’s just been such a positive wave of encouragement, a powerful wave of encouragement in our archdiocese,” he concluded.


For more information on when Totus Tuus is coming to a parish near you, click here.
For more information on the Archdiocese of Denver’s Totus Tuus program, click here.

Marie O'Neal
Marie O'Neal
Marie O'Neal is the Staff Writer & Reporter for Denver Catholic & El Pueblo Católico.

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