What is Totus Tuus?
Totus Tuus is a Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship. The goal of Totus Tuus is to help young people grow in their understanding of, and strengthen their faith in, Jesus Christ. It is only by establishing a real and personal relationship with Him that we can be led to the love of the Father in the Spirit and so be made sharers in the life of the Holy Trinity.
“I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one can come to the Father except through me”
Totus Tuus strives to strike a balance between the knowledge of the meaning of the Sacraments and sacramental practices, thus bringing our faith alive.
Totus Tuus seeks to foster openness to vocations in the young people we serve as well as among the teachers. This is accomplished by placing special emphasis on the importance and necessity of prayer, Eucharistic devotion, and Marian devotion, in addition to catechetical instruction and formation in the Catholic faith.
Totus Tuus began in 1987 as a vacation Bible school program under the inspiration of Fr. Bernard Gorges, when he was a first-year seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. By 1993, the program now known formally as Totus Tuus had spread to include service to parishes in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. The summer of 2000 program included 69 sites served by Totus Tuus. Of this number, there were 23 sites (41 parishes) in the Diocese of Wichita, 10 sites (12 parishes) in the Diocese of Dodge City and 4 parishes in the Diocese of Salina, 7 sites (10 parishes) in the Archdiocese of Kansas City and 25 sites outside of the state of Kansas (Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Georgia). In 2007, Totus Tuus of Chicago began its pilot summer with two teams serving 10 parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet. In 2008 we are happy to add The Diocese of Kansas City & St. Joseph Missouri to this ever growing list.
Totus Tuus Inspires Vocations
Much of the success of Totus Tuus is due to the college-age teachers whose zeal for Christ and His Church inspire young people to lives of radical holiness. Furthermore, teachers of Totus Tuus often discover their own vocation as they too are inspired to lives of deeper devotion.
Historically, approximately 12% of Totus Tuus team members pursue formation in the priesthood or religious life.
Did You Know the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, which founded the Totus Tuus program, boasts 23 priests who credit their vocation to the priesthood, in part, to Totus Tuus?
“Totus Tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt.”
I am totally yours, and all that I have is yours.
Thus begins the episcopal motto of the late Holy Father, John Paul II. With these words, John Paul II inspired and continues to inspire men and women from all over the world to entrust their lives completely to Jesus Christ through the Virgin Mary. Mary’s total devotion to the will of the Father is the model for Totus Tuus, as it seeks to respond to John Paul II’s urgent call for a “New Evangelization.”
TOTUS TUUS is Latin for “Totally Yours”. By these words, John Paul II reminds us of Mary’s total gift of herself to God the Father. It represents our desire to give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ through the hands of His Immaculate Mother. Mary’s “Yes” at the Annunciation, and her total sacrifice and service to the Body of Christ exemplify this total commitment. TOTUS TUUS, then, reminds us of the tremendous and sometimes difficult call to spend ourselves for Christ while relying on the intercession of His Mother, and to preach the gospel to all those that we meet.
TOTUS TUUS is a Catholic catechetical program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship. The goal of TOTUS TUUS is to help young people develop their relationship with Jesus Christ so that there is an intimate friendship whereby he may lead them to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. To accomplish this, we emphasize a devotion and love for our Lord in the Eucharist and for Mary our Mother. We strive to help young people understand their faith through catechesis so that they may live it in today’s world. We do this in such a way that it is fun for both teachers and youth alike. A TOTUS TUUS teacher helps to make the faith real to the youth as a way of life and love and not simply a set of rules and obligations.
The program calls upon college students and seminarians from across the United States to carry out this mission. Those hired are trained and put onto teams of four (two men and two women) to go out into a parish for a week, putting on a “parish mission” in order to teach and inspire the young. They do this for seven weeks. In addition to trying to communicate our faith and translate that into daily life, we strive to foster Christian vocations. It is our firm belief that vocations, callings from God, can only be heard and responded to if one is living a Christian life. We strive to foster this, first and foremost, in our teachers by providing them with an understanding of the faith, a strong prayer life, and an opportunity to witness to their faith. The teachers sign a “covenant” in which they promise to be open to God’s will for them and to actively discern God’s call in their life. Because the teachers are striving to live an authentic Christian life and are actively discerning their vocation, they can better help the youth to do the same.
How Does TOTUS TUUS Promote Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life?
By fostering a lived Christian life among the teachers we foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. If a person does not live a Christian life then he or she would never want to give his or her life to Jesus Christ and the Church. We foster the living of our Faith through:
- a consistent prayer life based on the Sacraments of the Church, Liturgy of the Hours, Marian devotion, and silent contemplative prayer
- teaching them the basics of the Faith and where to go to learn more
- providing them with an opportunity to “spend themselves for Christ in service of the Gospel” and thus giving them the skills of evangelizing and passing on the faith
We promote the living of a Christian life among the young people whom we serve and thus promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We do this by placing the witness of enthusiastic and faith-filled college students and seminarians in contact with young people and through:
- extensive catechesis on the faith of the Church
- the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in the Sacraments of the Church, most especially in the daily celebration of the Eucharist
We promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life among our teachers by asking them to engage in an active discernment of their vocation. We do this by:
- having all the teachers sign a “covenant” promising to “actively” discern their vocation (at the same time they abstain from dating for the duration of the program)
- encouraging them to read about these vocations and giving the books to them
- teaching them the principles of the theology of vocation, priesthood, religious life and marriage during their training
- requiring them to teach these same principles to elementary and secondary school children
- putting them into contact with priests and seminarians on a regular basis and religious on an occasional basis
We promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life among the young people whom we serve by:
- having classes devoted specifically to the Church’s teaching on vocation, priesthood, religious life and marriage
- personally witnessing to them about our own vocational decisions and struggles
- putting them in contact with seminarians and priests on a regular basis