Local Youth & young adult

Missionaries needed for summer Totus Tuus program

Anton Johnson, Totus Tuus missionary group leader, gets an enthusiastic reaction from the boys and girls at Annunciation Parish in Frankfort in this 2022 file photo. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Keegan Colbern spent his entire summer last year having fun and living his faith large as a Totus Tuus missionary.

He can’t wait to do it all over again this coming summer, and he hopes other young men will join him.

Like the Marines, Totus Tuus needs “a few good men” to sign up as missionaries in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Totus Tuus (Latin for “Totally Yours”) is a summer Catholic youth program that began in Wichita and spread across the United States. Four-member teams of missionaries lead the weeklong programs held at Catholic parishes.

What makes Totus Tuus work is not only its solid curriculum, but the enthusiasm of college-age missionaries, who are on fire with the Catholic faith and want to share it with children and youths in grades 1 to 12.

“I’m coming back as a missionary because it was one of my most fulfilling experiences ever getting to share the faith,” said Colbern, from Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka, and now a second-year seminary student at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.

“In Totus Tuus, I got to share my faith, which brought not just the kids closer to Jesus, but also myself,” he said. “I’m coming back because the experience was so good that I want to do it again.”

Jessica Sadusky from Elko New Market, Minnesota, has some fun in the Totus Tuus setting. Missionaries come from colleges and seminaries across the country and must complete a weeklong training session in the Wichita Diocese. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Totus Tuus programs are held at parishes with daytime sessions for children in grades 1 through 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and evening sessions for youths in junior high and high school from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m.

Both sessions include such things as games, songs, skits, teaching, Christian witness, eucharistic worship, Mass, the sacraments, vocational discernment and a lot more.

The missionaries serve from May 28 to Aug. 3, with a week off around the Fourth of July. During these weeks, they move from parish to parish, running the program according to the Totus Tuus curriculum. The missionaries receive room, board and a stipend.

“They must be age 18 by May,” said Pam Riordan, archdiocesan consultant for children’s catechesis. “They must be Virtus-trained, but we can train them. They must have graduated from high school, be available for the full schedule and have a working knowledge of the Catholic faith. We can train them in the curriculum.”

Missionary teams consist of two women and two men, who work according to the “buddy system.” Currently, enough women have signed up, but more men are needed.

Not everyone can be a Totus Tuus missionary, said Colbern, but for those who can and want to make a difference, the experience is richly rewarding.

“It’s not for everyone,” he said. “But if you value the treasure you store in heaven, and you’re trying to go to heaven and bring others with you, Totus Tuus is one of the best avenues for doing that. It helps you grow as a person and become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and you get to spread his love to children and help them on their path to heaven. If you’re a person who values heaven and wants to live that way, Totus Tuus is a great opportunity.”

To learn more or apply to become a Totus Tuus missionary, click here.

 For additional questions, send an email to: Totustuus@archkck.org.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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