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Totus Tuus 2017

Troy Norman, a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington, is spending part of his summer break from his own studies -- teaching.
 
A team leader and teacher in the Totus Tuus program, he is, he said, “helping children give themselves to Jesus through Mary” and sharing his experience of the faith with them as a role model.
 
Two teams of two seminarians and two young women each are conducting five Totus Tuus programs for elementary and middle school students and a separate one for high schoolers.
 
In Bennington, 62 children participated along with about a dozen high schoolers.
 
Totus Tuus was St. John Paul II's apostolic motto. It is a Latin phrase meaning "totally yours" and expressed his personal consecration to Mary.
 
Totus Tuus is a Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The goal of Totus Tuus is to help young people grow in their understanding of, and strengthen their faith in, Jesus Christ. The program strives to bring faith to life by creating a balance between knowledge of the meaning of the sacraments and an authentic sacramental life.
 
According to Holy Cross Father Robert Wiseman, administrator of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish in Bennington and St. John the Baptist Parish in North Bennington, the program provides a consistency in vacation religious education throughout the statewide Diocese.
 
Though some parishes have their own Vacation Bible School programs, Totus Tuus offers the same program with a strong catechetical basis throughout the Diocese with trained staff members.
 
Vermont is the only site in New England where it is currently offered.
 
Father Dwight Baker, director of the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington and chaplain for Totus Tuus, said the program is a “great blend of learning and fun.”
 
Classes are geared to each grade level, and each year the theme is different mysteries of the rosary; this year it is the Joyful Mysteries. Participants also learn about salvation history.
 
“The young people [on the team] are on fire for their faith, and the children see they are living an authentic life in their faith,” Father Baker said. “They are people [the children] look up to.”
 
Participants in the Bennington Totus Tuus – one of the largest in the Diocese – came from Bennington, North Bennington, Manchester and Arlington and from North Adams and Williamstown, Mass.
 
Jessica O’Connell, one of the coordinators, sent her son, Ambrose, 5, to Tutus Tuus at the Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish Center. “It’s an opportunity for him to be with a group of his peers and be exposed to the older leaders who are encouraging him in his faith,” she said.
 
The other coordinator, Tammy Buckley, said she hoped the Totus Tuus experience would have an effect on the wider community too, bringing persons to Jesus through the words and actions of the participants. “It’s really all about love,” she said.
 
Father Wiseman said Totus Tuus also is an opportunity for him to meet parents “and engage is some pastoral ministry.”
 
In addition, he said it is good for parishioners to see youth activities in the parish; he planned to show a video of Totus Tuus during upcoming weekend Masses.
 
Kayla E. King, 14, a volunteer helper from Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish, said she helped the children “stay focused” on their lessons and have fun. “It’s important so they can grow in their faith,” she said.
 
Totus Tuus is funded in part by The Bishop’s Annual Appeal/the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
 

Salvation Army dinners

University of Vermont students are responding to the Gospel command to serve others by preparing and serving dinners at the Salvation Army in downtown Burlington.
 
Twice a month during the school year students prepare and serve mixed vegetable salad and macaroni and cheese with ham; the Salvation Army provides the dessert.
 
They do the prep work on Thursday evenings at the Catholic Center, then return for cooking and final preparations before heading to the Main Street meal site to serve the meal; they plan to serve about 120 people in need.
 
“There is definitely a heart for service at UVM,” said Father Dwight Baker, director of the Catholic Center. The students “definitely witness to our faith in Christ and put our faith into action.”
 
During any given week during the school year, an average of about 20 students are involved in the meal program sponsored by the Catholic Center.
 
Nora Ghostlaw, a senior from Hanover, Mass., majoring in elementary and special education, has been involved in preparing meals for the Salvation Army since the end of her first year at the university. “When I first signed up to help cook and serve, I thought it would be a great way to not only get further involved in the Catholic Center but also a great way to give back to the Burlington community,” she said. “The guests that come through are so appreciative of the meal that we serve, and it is an amazing feeling to play a small part in helping the Salvation Army.”
 
Students from the center have been cooking and serving meals at the Salvation Army for about 10 years; for about eight years before that they served only.
 
Funds for the meals come from a grant from the Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal, supported by the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington.
 
The cheese for the macaroni and cheese is donated, and sometimes the pasta is too.
 
“Living on a college campus can seem like living in a bubble at times, with practically everything you need at your fingertips, but going out into Burlington and serving at the Salvation Army can really pop that bubble,” Ghostlaw said. “It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of college life, but it is important to always take a step back to see what is happening in the world around you. I think as Catholics we are called to serve others in the likeness of Jesus and out of the goodness of our hearts, and we are so fortunate to have the amazing opportunity to do just that at the
 
Salvation Army.”
 
Taking time out of a busy schedule to cook and serve a meal “is a great way to take a step back and think about what we are really here for,” she said. “I think it can help put things in life into perspective for students.”
 
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