Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Catechism for kids: Totus Tuus from Winona teaches Catholic basics in West St Paul

Something more Catholic. That’s what Chris Stokman, preschool religious education coordinator at St. Joseph in West St. Paul, wanted to offer her parish for its summer vacation Bible school. She may have found just what she was looking for in Totus Tuus — a team of four college students from Winona who have committed their summer to teaching youth about the faith.

After using Protestant-based programs that lacked Catholic content and then writing her own Eucharist-based program last year, Stokman knew St. Joseph parishioners liked the program that included their Catholic identity.
With a greater focus on Catholic fundamentals than other programs, Totus Tuus sends teams into parishes. Many parishes use Totus Tuus as their vacation Bible school, Stokman said.
Latin for “Totally Yours,” Totus Tuus is a Catholic youth program led by college-age adults. Started in the Denver archdiocese, the program has been adopted in dioceses throughout the country, including the Diocese of Winona, where the team at St. Joseph was trained. This is the first time Totus Tuus has been invited to the archdiocese.
“The Totus Tuus mission is to evangelize and teach kids about the Catechism in a fun way and make sure they have the sacraments,” said Totus Tuus team member Eric Sonnek, 21, a senior at St. Mary’s University in Winona from Delavan. “Kids get confused about what makes them Catholic,” added Kara Koczur, 20, a Totus Tuus team member and junior at the University of St. Thomas. “We’re showing them that Jesus is right there at Mass and comes to them in that humble form.”

Running on a six-year rotation, this year’s theme is the Creed and the Luminous Mysteries. Colored yarn tied around participants arms reminded them of their daily lessons.
The evening sessions for teenagers are discussion-based, said Totus Tuus team member and Franciscan University junior Angie Bower, 20, from Durand, Wis. “We teach them in a way that opens up their love for the Lord and the good things about our faith and their vocation,” she said. [snip] Catholic Spirit

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