‘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.