'All God's people say . . . Amen!' Totus Tuus program completes second year in diocese Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 06, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
totus tuus 2015
Fourth-grader Magdalen Simon (right) smiles wide with nearly 50 other kids during a recent activity in the Totus Tuus program at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison. The youth program took place at a dozen parishes in the Diocese of Madison this summer. To view or purchase photos, go to madisoncatholicherald.smugmug.com (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- There are kids in the Diocese of Madison who like going to class in the middle of July. Yes, you read that correctly.

There are also games, songs, skits, and snacks, but they still readily admit they like going to class.

It’s all part of Totus Tuus -- a summer Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship.

Totus Tuus was at six parishes in the diocese last summer and that number doubled this year to 12.

Teaching kids about the faith

Two teams of four teachers each split duties at the parishes this summer.

One team made up of teachers Lizzy Svigelj, Mark Miller, Ashley Pike, and seminarian Clint Olson recently completed a week at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison.

Forty-seven kids, grades K through five -- the program’s largest group of the summer -- took part in the program.

“The kids make it worth it,” said Svigelj. “You ask them questions and they can answer them. They say how much fun they have in class . . . it’s going really well and the kids are learning a lot.”

For Olson, the best part is “getting to impact the kids and see them learn about the Gospel and learn about their faith.”

Learning the faith

The learning for the week included the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary -- with one taught and prayed every day -- along with this year’s curriculum of virtues -- cardinal and theological -- and the Beatitudes. There were also lessons on the Mass and the sacraments.

“I learned that no matter who we are and what we do, God always loves us,” said fifth grader Henry Loop.

“I liked answering the questions about the virtues and Beatitudes,” said third grader Lucy Bugni. “I learned a lot about them.”

Olson gave the kids a unique perspective during the summer as he is in formation for the priesthood.

“It’s a great chance to talk about vocations and the younger kids especially love hearing about becoming a priest or other vocations besides the priesthood,” said Olson. “It’s exciting for them.”

Having fun, too

There’s also a lot of fun to be had in Totus Tuus.

In between classes, the day is loaded with skits, songs, games, and other activities.

“I really liked the songs and the games,” said Loop. “Those were really fun and I made a lot of friends. It’s been a really fun week.”

“I liked that every time Mister Mark [Miller] or Miss Lizzy [Svigelj] said something really funny, the whole class would start laughing,” said third grader Elizabeth Carrano.

A popular song among the St. Thomas Aquinas group was about “Fred the Moose” and his juice.

A game called Sharks and Minnows was a popular game among the students. It’s a tag-like game where the sharks chase the minnows. There were mixed opinions about which was the better role to have in the game.

The teachers also put on several skits during the week -- including a cooking show segment where Svigelj and Olson -- complete with German accents and Pike and Miller as their hands -- attempted to cook an “old family recipe.”

How awesome was it? Your kids will have to check out Totus Tuus sometime to see. Words just cannot do it justice.

Every Totus Tuus week ends with a water balloon toss, shaving cream fight, and water fight. One of the teachers also gets picked to be covered in shaving cream by all the students.

During this particular week, Olson was chosen. St. Thomas Aquinas Pastor Fr. Bart Timmerman also volunteered to be covered in shaving cream by the students.

It’s a “most fun and crazy time,” said Olson. “We just have a lot of fun the last afternoon.”

For more information on Totus Tuus, go to www.madisondiocese.org/Ministry/EvangelizationandCatechesis/YouthMinistry/TotusTuus.aspx


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