Totus Tuus teaches and shares truths Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 25, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
totus tuus
Totus Tuus team member and Diocese of Madison seminarian Ryan Ruhle, center, leads a class during a recent session at Immaculate Conception Parish in Kieler. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

KIELER -- The week ended with a water fight.

A week at Totus Tuus typically ends with a water fight, and if you talk to many of the program’s young participants, such as nine-year-old Kara Weber-Droessler, you’d hear, “I really look forward to Fridays because we get to do a giant water fight if we get three 10s.”

The “three 10s” are rewards for good behavior and learning well during the week.

Her friend, nine-year-old Kaylin Crippes, also shared that “I like how we get to do Water Day,” remarking how she’d love to get a bucket of cold water dumped on her as part of the end-of-the-week festivities.

Totus Tuus participants loving the water fight is a truth.

Kids at Totus Tuus also learn other deeper truths, such as the presence of Christ in the Eucharist at Mass, the graces that come from the sacraments, and the importance of prayer as part of daily life.

Program for youth

For the sixth summer in a row, the Diocese of Madison is presenting the summer Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship.

A team of four college-aged leaders each are travelling to a different parish, over a seven-week period, to lead programs for grade school-aged and junior high-aged children.

The leader team members are Veronica Wypasek, a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio; Susie Melk, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Diocese of Madison seminarians Matthew Hanstad and Ryan Ruhle.

Teaching the faith

The 2019 summer of Totus Tuus started in Holy Ghost and Immaculate Conception Parishes in Dickeyville and Kieler.

A typical day started off in prayer, offering the day through the Blessed Mother, along with some silly songs (including “We Will Rock You” using the words “we will praise him” and “we will love him”).

Following this was “Totus Tuus Theatre,” in which the leaders perform an over-the-top skit to get the kids pumped for the day.

Different age groups then went off to their separate class times. The leaders rotated during the day which age group they would be with during the different class periods.

During one class period, Ruhle taught his group about one of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary — The Crowning of Thorns.

He told the kids this mystery can be used for “recognizing Him as King of the Universe” and our way of saying “Jesus, you’re greater than I am and you’re the king” giving “everything I need.”

During the class period, Ruhle led a group activity where a kid volunteer, complete with crown and robe, acted like a king for the subjects in his village. The pretend king went around to his subjects, asking them what they need, and he granted those wishes.

Other class periods during the day included lessons about the sacraments.

For seminarian Ruhle, being part of the Totus Tuus team helps him gain “the pastoral experience of working with children in more of a classroom environment . . . showing them you care and participating in silly things with them too.”

Wypasek added, “although I’m teaching the kids and hoping to help them grow in their faith and knowledge of like what the Catholic Church is, I feel like I’ve grown so much as well already.

“I’m really excited to be able to grow with my team and just love the kids because they’re amazing, and you can see Christ through them as much as I hope they can see it through us on the team.”

Learning about the Mass

Daily Mass is an important part of Totus Tuus, not just attending it, but understanding it.

“Show me your genuflect!” Melk said as she and a group of kids went over the appropriate gesture before Mass started.

Reverence and silence were also emphasized before Mass.

Pastor Fr. Bernie Rott celebrated the Mass for the kids, and some of the participants helped out by bringing up the gifts during Mass.

Time for fun

Along with the faith, there was time for fun, including snack time, lunchtime, and a recess period where the kids and leaders burned off some energy together.

For more information on Totus Tuus in the Diocese of Madison, go to

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