‘Totus Tuus’ going strong

The “Totus Tuus” summer camp continues to wow children of all ages.

With six Parishes visited through July 22, 2022, the summer camp has brought hundreds of children and teens closer to the Lord. Recent stops included St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers and St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate. The intent of the program is to assist parents and Parishes in the evangelizing and catechizing of their youth by supplementing the work they are currently doing.

Father Rafael Ligenza, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish which hosted Totus Tuus the week of July 18-22, said he was impressed by the response of the children.

“It’s wonderful to see how the children are responding to everything they are learning,” Father Ligenza said.

Each week there is a potluck when the missionaries get to meet the parents and the participants in the camp show off some of the things they learned. The potluck at St. Joseph on July 19 was a double celebration with a cake marking Father Ligenza’s birthday.

Missionary Garrett Willie, of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and student at Xavier University in Cincinnati, told the parents about Totus Tuus.

“We are here teaching the children to have an intimate relationship with their faith, seeing God as their Father and Jesus as their friend,” Willie said. “We do this by taking them through the Sacraments… and in the classroom we spend time with fun games and activities and really diving in on the power of prayer. It’s cool to see them at the beginning of the week hearing them say – ‘Do we really have to talk about this?’ and then come Wednesday or Thursday, they are like – ‘Oh my gosh, Jesus is so cool, we loved learning about Him!’ – and you see the light go off in their eyes. It’s beautiful.”

The day camp program is for grades one to five, and evenings are for grades six through 12.

Each day, the children’s camp begins with music to pump the children up and get them ready for the full day ahead with all the time focused on learning key lessons about their Faith with a focus on the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. In addition to dancing, music and prayer, the children have time for activities such as crafts and games. There is time for Mass each day with additional quiet reflective time in Eucharistic Adoration and three days when there is opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Evening sessions with the teens are less formal and focus on putting a renewed focus on growing in their personal relationship with the Lord. The missionaries and seminarians share their personal spiritual journey and then the teens gather in prayer and reflection. This group also takes part in Eucharistic Adoration with the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Totally Yours! Hundreds having fun with faith

The new Diocese of Venice Totus Tuus Summer Camp has been generating a lot of buzz as it moves from Parish to Parish each week. Hundreds of children and teens have been having fun learning about the Catholic Faith throughout the Diocese.

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate.

Father Jiobani Batista, Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle – which hosted Totus Tuus the week of June 20-24, 2022 – said if he had his way, he would welcome a Totus Tuus Summer Camp every week, all summer.

“The enthusiasm and wonder of the young children have been great,” Father Batista said. “Then, the engagement and excitement from the teens was incredible. I am having young kids come up to me at each break asking me questions about everything. That is amazing. To see their interest and excitement about Jesus, the Mass and everything about their Faith is very exciting.”

The day camp program is for grades one to five, and is Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and evenings are for grades six through 12, is Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. The camp opened the week of June 6 at St. Katherine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, where 50 children, and 27 youth participated. Then the following week at St. Agnes Parish in Naples some 100 young children and more than 60 teens participated, with a group coming from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee.

The Our Lady Queen of Heaven week engaged more than 100 children during the day and some 60 youth in the evening. This group also included children from St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston. This was followed by a week at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, with participants (about 100 youth and 60 teens) also coming from St. James Parish in Lake Placid and Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park.

Each day of the children’s camp, the participants learn lessons about the importance of prayer, and ways to pray, from the basics of the Our Father and Hail Mary to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. They also learn about the importance of the Eucharist and how Jesus walks with them all the time.

Diocesan Seminarians Juan Contreras and James Gates are fully involved in the daily activities of the camp, taking charge of some classes of the younger campers and being team leaders for the older groups in the evenings.

“I think this camp is making a difference and it’s fun to see how much enthusiasm the little kids have and compare that to the teens and their questions, which are much more serious and profound,” Contreras said.

“It is great to see the reaction of the little kids when they learn something new,” Gates said. “The teens just like to hang out, but they are interested and that is important.”

Seeing the seminarians every day, in a relaxed setting, gives the campers of all ages a positive role model whom they can look up to and interact with, which is an opportunity they might not otherwise have. Some of their impactful actions by the seminarians are subtle: such as a compliment here, or a smile there, and perhaps a high five for a job well done. At other times, the seminarians teach the young children the basics of praying the Our Father and Hail Mary, or they are leaders in prayer, such as during the Liturgy of the Hours with the youth in the evening, or perhaps when they join in the crazy dancing and fun games.

“Having the young children and youth see the seminarians is really inspiring,” Father Batista said. “They are great with the little ones and can answer any question for the teens. In fact, I already have some inquiring to be a Totus Tuus missionary next year and others who are expressing an interest in a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. That is great. I wish we had all of the seminarians here.”

After the final evening prayer with the youth at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, many of the teens sought out the two seminarians, as well as the other four missionaries, to personally thank them, often seeking a high-five, fist-bump or even a hug, always with a big smile.

Angelica Pena, Director of Religious Education at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, praised the structure and focus of Totus Tuus. She was amazed at how well her students were picking up the most complex of topics and then remembering the next day.

“This is a whole year of religious education crammed into one week for the young ones, and they love it, and more importantly the parents love it,” Pena said. “They are learning, and they are remembering prayers and lessons in a way that just doesn’t happen when you see them for 90 minutes each week.”

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus for the rest of the summer are: St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, July 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

There are still some openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Faith Can Be Fun!

What do you get when upwards of 100 children gather for a special summer camp – a growth in Faith and lots of fun.

Part way into its second week, the inaugural Totus Tuus Summer Camp for children and teens has been a great success. The opening week, June 6-10, 2022, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, brought in 50 children each day and 27 teens each evening. The second week, June 13-17, is at St. Agnes Parish in Naples and there are more than 100 children and 60 youth taking part. Among the group at St. Agnes were also children from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee.

The goal of the Totus Tuus Summer Camp is to help young people grow in their understanding of the faith and strengthening of their faith in Jesus Christ. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate.

Each day of the weeklong camp, the children and youth learn lessons about the importance of prayer, and ways to pray, from the basics of the Our Father and Hail Mary to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

They also learn about the importance of the Eucharist and how Jesus walks with them all the time, explained Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education.

The day begins with music to pump the children up and get them ready for the full day ahead with all the time focused on learning key lessons about their faith. In addition to dancing, music and prayer, the children have time for activities such as crafts and games.

There is time for Mass each day with additional quiet reflective time in Eucharistic Adoration and three days when there is opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Mass portion of the day is more than participating in the important celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is at this time during the camp when the children not only learn the various hymns but also learn about the different parts of the Mass and why they are so key to this important celebration. For example, when entering the Church, the children are brought to the Holy Water Font and taught how and why they are to respectfully dip their finger in the water and bless themselves.

Diocesan Seminarians Juan Contreras and James Gates are fully involved in the daily activities of the camp, serving as leaders in prayer and offering their discernment stories to the teens in the evenings. They serve as leaders when teaching about hearing the call of the Lord in one’s life, citing their own examples as a guide for others to follow.

The teen aspect of the summer camp is confined to the evenings and focuses on allowing the Totus Tuus missionaries and seminarians to share their stories and lead discussions on topics that are important to young people today. The teens also take part in Adoration and there is a special focus on growing their prayer life and relationship with the Lord.

There is a mid-week potluck during which families come and see firsthand what their children have learned as they perform skits or short plays about different aspects of their faith. The week concludes with a water day of outside fun and games.

Rose M. Talbot-Babey, Director of Religious Education at St. Katharine Drexel, sent a note to Chrzan about the week, saying she received lots of positive feedback from parents and children alike about how they enjoyed the Totus Tuus camp.

“In particular, the children were sharing what they had learned once they got home which is so encouraging and the parents were pleased with that,” Talbot-Babey wrote.

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer are: St. Katherine Drexel; St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, June 20-24; St. Catherine in Sebring, June 27-July 1; St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, July 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

The camp program, for grades 1-5, takes place Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12, it is Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m.

Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of June 10, 2022

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally a success

More than 30 people took part in the national “America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally” on June 4, 2022, in Fort Myers. The Rally was held at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Boulevard, and was focused on the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion, and. The threat of rain kept some away as the region was under a Tropical Storm Warning at the time. Rally organizer Toni Holmlund said the weather cooperated and most of the drivers passing by were supportive.

Sarasota school recognized

St. Mary Academy won the Family Living Magazine’s Reader’s Choice 2022 award for Best Special Education School in the area! Parents with special needs children often find that a typical classroom setting isn’t ideal for their child. They may have tried the traditional classroom setting only to have their child struggle and fall behind academically. Now, imagine finding that perfect school, one that meets your child’s particular needs. From the moment you visit the secure campus, you realize St. Mary Academy is a very unique environment. To learn more about St. Mary Academy, please visit www.stmarysarasota.org/.

Lourdes Virtual pilgrimage June 25

Holy Cross Parish, 505 26th St. W., Palmetto, is hosting a “Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage Experience,” at 9 a.m., June 25, 2022. Presented by the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, the presentation will be in English and Spanish. Present at the presentation will be a Grotto Rock and water from Lourdes, a Eucharistic blessing, and a Holy Rosary procession. Participants will have the opportunity to earn a plenary indulgence. There is no cost to attend. For more information, please call Holy Cross Parish at 941-729-3891.

Volunteers needed

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Naples is looking for thrift store volunteers. If you would like to offer your time as a cashier, sorter, receiver or customer assistance representative for SVdP Naples, call Samantha at 239-775-2907 ext. 1014 or email info@svdpnaples.org

Ordination to the Priesthood

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of the Deacons as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes, especially in light of an upcoming Supreme Court decision in June. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.

Catholic Summer Camp Program

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the parish and at home. This summer the program will be offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice. The camp program is for grades 1-5 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12 Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. Parishes hosting the program in the coming weeks are as follows:

  • St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, June 13-17.
  • Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle, June 20-24.
  • St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory Street, Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Street West, Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Vacation Bible School in Grove City

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 5265 Placida Rd., Grove City, is hosting Vacation Bible School “God’s Wonder Lab,” from 9:00 a.m. to noon daily from Monday June 20 to Friday, June 24, 2022. Plunge in for VBS fun at God’s Wonder Lab! Our God makes the impossible possible! Participants will delve into five Bible stories and discover that Jesus does the impossible for us. He does wonderful things for us because he loves us. Open to children first to sixth grade, 2022-2023. Register online at www.sfoachuch.com or contact Jim Brantner at 941-697-4899 Press 3.

Vacation Bible School in Venice

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, is hosting a Vacation Bible School “Monumental – Celebrating God’s Greatness,” from 9:00 a.m. to noon, daily Monday, June 27 to Friday, July 1, 2022. The week offers the opportunity to meet new friends, participate in amazing games, have surprising adventures and much more. Please register at www.epiphanycathedral.org or call 941-484-3505. Adult and teen volunteers needed.

Youth Conference

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8 to10, 2022. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, and opportunities for confession. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Adoption services available

Catholic Charities Adoption Services is a state-wide agency that provides counseling to birth parents, and provisions or resources to meet the needs of birth parents considering adoption planning. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, please call Joan Pierse at 941-355-4680.

 

TOTUS TUUS – New type of summer camp aims to inspire

For 10 days in late May and early June a group of young men and women gathered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice as they prepared to lead a new type of summer camp at eight different Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice.

These missionaries will lead the Totus Tuus Summer Camp, dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship. This program assists parents and Parishes in the evangelizing and catechizing of their youth by supplementing the work they are currently doing.

“The goal of the Totus Tuus Summer Camp is to help young people grow in their understanding of, and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ,” explained Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education. “Each day of the weeklong camp, the children and youth learn lessons about prayer, from the basics of the Our Father to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.”

The concept of this unique outreach was started in Wichita, Kansas in 1987 as a summer catechetical program and has grown into a weeklong summer camp which is now active in more than 50 Dioceses with the Diocese of Venice the latest to join in this effort. The program has a proven track record of inspiring active stewards, fruitful vocations and a lifelong love for the Church.

Totus Tuus is a Latin phrase meaning “Totally Yours.” It was a motto of St. John Paul II, taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary.” It signifies our desire to give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ through Mary.

Each Parish hosting the event will welcome children and teens from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon.  These sessions are divided into daytime camp for children from first grade through sixth, and evening retreats for teens seventh grade through recent high school graduates. The week is filled with faith, fun, and friendship and there are messy games, crazy skits, and music. The college-age leaders provide an authentic witness to the students.

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer are: St. Katherine Drexel in Cape Coral, June 6-10; St. Agnes in Naples, June 13-17; Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, June 20-24; St. Catherine in Sebring, June 27-July 1; St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, June 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

Additionally, Totus Tuus strives to bring an awareness of vocations in the young adults who serve as missionaries. Each missionary begins the day with morning prayer, praying the rosary and attending daily Mass.  These missionaries serve as teachers for the camp by leading a small group of children or teens each day with lessons and activities to enhance the theme of prayer.

From May 26 to June 6, the missionaries prepared and trained at the Venice retreat center structuring their studies around how the daily camp will progress. Hannah Tuong, of the Diocese of Tulsa, headed the training program.

The 2022 Totus Tuus missionaries are Sam Salyer of the Diocese of Gary, Kate Ihlefeldt, of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Garrett Willie of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Marianna Evangelista of the Archdiocese of Denver. Additionally, assisting the missionaries will be Diocese of Venice Seminarians Juan Contreras, James Gates and Daniel Scanlan.

These missionaries were selected for their energy, enthusiasm, love of the Faith, commitment to spiritual growth, ability to work with a team and a desire to work with youth.

Ihlefeldt took part in Totus Tuus from second grade into high school and described it as the highlight of her summer. She loves singing, playing piano and guitar, reading, hiking, and of course, spending time with Our Lord.

“God is my nearest and dearest friend, and I could not imagine who I would be without Him,” she explained. “One of the many passions in my life is bringing people closer to God, and I think the best way to do that is through the example and testimony of our own lives… The youth need this program now more than ever, and it’s a huge blessing to be part of a team that is dedicated to that mission.”

Slayer is an artist who loves images that give glory to God. While his goal is to help teach everyone he encounters how to fall in love with Christ, “as a missionary, I not only want to help those I teach. I want to have a heart that can be moved by what they teach me about my faith.”

Chrzan said while many of the Parish Totus Tuus camp slots are full, some openings are available by contacting the individual Parish religious education office which can be found by visiting www. https://dioceseofvenice.org/find-a-parish/, For Further information regarding this program contact Anne Chrzan@chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

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