‘Totus Tuus’ summer youth program plans to offer its teaching content online

Totus Tuus participants take part in an exercise of trust led by team member Jacob Martini in this 2017 file photo from St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington.

People who were sad to hear that Totus Tuus, the popular, parish-based faith formation program for children and teens, might not be able to take place this summer can rejoice.

While the weeklong sessions with Totus Tuus missionaries and teachers is not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, Father Timothy Hepner and Amy Chovan of the Office of Priestly Vocations have developed a plan to bring the content to anyone who wants it, free of charge, starting in June.

“Totus Tuus” is Latin for “all yours” and was the motto of St. John Paul II. This year’s theme is “To the Heights: Beatitudes, Commandments and Glorious Mysteries.”

“It would be easy to throw up our hands and say let’s take the summer of 2020 off, but I don’t think that’s what God’s asking us to do,” said Father Hepner, vocation director of recruitment for the Diocese of Peoria. “I think we still want to put stuff out there so people can encounter their faith and people can be drawn deeper into their faith. God’s people still want to be fed.”

ACTIVITIES INCLUDED

“Our thought is to have Totus Tuus Tuesdays,” Amy Chovan, coordinator of the Office of Priestly Vocations, told The Catholic Post. “I’m going to roll content out once a week throughout the summer. There’s going to be a page on our website that’s just for Totus Tuus 2020 and people can go there and get all the resources they need.”

“I’m hoping for short videos that are exciting, that show our teachers and the excitement they have about the faith,” Father Hepner said. “Videos that have a lot of really good content, very Catholic content, because that’s what’s great about Totus Tuus. It’s explicitly Catholic.”

In addition to the videos, there will be audio meditations so that students can take their device outside with a Bible and have a guided reflection, he said.

With help from talented teachers around the diocese, they also hope to offer activities for the students.

Teens will be invited to join small groups using online conferencing. It won’t be possible to offer that every night, the way an in-person Totus Tuus program works, but the young people will be able to interact with each other and get to know one another, Father Hepner said.

While this has many of the same elements as the remote learning students were engaged it, Totus Tuus 2020 will be more interactive, Father Hepner said.

“We’re hoping to use it to build up community and draw people together, especially at a time when things are really isolating,” he explained.

Chovan said everything will be posted to comeandfollowme.org, the website of the Office of Priestly Vocations. Videos and audio meditations will remain there and may be used again and again.

Even though there is no charge, people are asked to register to allow for communication throughout the summer, she said.

“Maybe this will allow more people to experience it,” Father Hepner said. “We would love to have Totus Tuus in every parish in the diocese, but we’re not able to. This will allow people who don’t get to have it an experience of it.”

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