Two young adults—Brett Baeverstad and Summer Swisher—who are working as teachers in the youth summer program Totus Tuus being offered at parishes across the Denver Archdiocese, are writing a weekly blog about their experiences for the Denver Catholic Register. The week five column by Baeverstad is below.
Coming back from our June 30-July4 break, my Totus Tuus team was sent to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Wheat Ridge. This happened to be the home parish of one our team members. Sts. Peter and Paul provided an excellent community in order to help us get back into the routine of Totus Tuus.
During our day program, the kids were a joy to be around. They were all very well catechized, which made our job as teachers much more exciting because we were able to go more in depth in our classes to challenge the kids. I was so surprised when on the first day of the week the first- and second-graders were able to list every single commandment before we had begun to talk about them. When we realized how well developed these kids already were in their knowledge of the faith, we enjoyed the opportunity to go far beyond the basics of the Totus Tuus program.
On top of being smart, these kids also understood the importance of living out their faith. One moment in particular stands out when thinking about this. Every day after Mass, the girls are excused first to go to lunch and the boys stay behind for a time we call “Man Cave.” During this time, we teach the boys about the importance of respecting women. We usually challenge them to throw away a girl’s trash from lunch or to hold open doors for them as a practical way to understand this concept. On July 9, during our snack time, a bunch of the boys ran to the front of the line. One of them, however, realized the girls should be going first and he stopped and yelled: “Guys, remember what the teacher said? We are supposed to be soldiers and let the ladies go first!” This small experience was impressive and showed that the kids really wanted to be the best they could be.
Our night program was also a good experience. The group of teens was very close to each other and involved in the youth ministry program. This allowed us Totus Tuus teachers to come in and hit the ground running. From the first night, our discussions and interactions with the group were phenomenal. The teens were also open to being challenged. We had one guy who showed up at the beginning of the week who said: “What is the big deal about Jesus? He is just a guy with long hair.” However, this boy kept coming back and asking questions. By the end of the week, we could see the new joy the kid had found in his faith and saw him wanting to pursue a relationship with our Lord.
Sts. Peter and Paul was a wonderful parish to be at and we were blessed to be there for a week. We are excited to see what the next parishes will hold for us and what the Lord has planned.
Brett Baeverstad is a native of Fort Collins who is studying biomedical engineering at Colorado State University. This is his first summer teaching Totus Tuus. When he’s not studying, he enjoys spending time on the golf course, shooting hoops, skiing and doing anything outside where he can enjoy beautiful Colorado.