July 14, 2016
"Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria." ("I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.")
—True Devotion to Mary
St. Louis de Montfort
Amarillo—It started with an idea by seminarian Shane Wieck. It’s a new program in the Diocese of Amarillo, but it’s a program that has been well received throughout the United States.
The program is called Totus Tuus. 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 the understanding of and strengthen their Faith in, Jesus Christ.
Totus Tuus was St. John Paul II's apostolic motto. It is a Latin phrase meaning "totally thine" and expressed his personal Consecration to Mary based on the spiritual approach of St. Louis de Montfort and the Mariology in his works. The pontiff explained the meaning further in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope where he defines it as not only an expression of piety but also of devotion that is deeply rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.
“Shane Wieck was at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Dalhart this past year and he introduced the program to me and asked if we could present it to the Presbyteral Council for consideration,” said Monsignor Michael Colwell, JCL, pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Church. “Shane did a really good job in his presentation and it was accepted. He talked to the youth and the catechetical departments and then presented a budget. The budget was approved. Then, he worked with the youth director at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Joshua “Dutch” Dutchover, who is the local coordinator. They were able to identify four wonderful young adults who went through the training in Wichita. Shane had helped with one of the trainings several years before in Denver and fell in love with the program and wanted to bring it to our parish and to the diocese.”
The program is midway through its first summer in the Diocese of Amarillo. It began the week of June 6 at St. Anthony’s Church in Hereford and has since been presented at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Dalhart; St. Ann’s Church, Canyon; Immaculate Conception Church, Vega; and Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Dumas. The program will be presented July 18-22 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo; and wrap up its summer the following week at St. John the Evangelist Church, Borger.
Conducting the program are four young adults—Collin Backus of St. Ann’s Church, Canyon; Deann Frausto of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo; Alyssa Wieck of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Amarillo; and seminarian Johnnatan Ibarra.
“I am so impressed with the level of education and the maturity of the four, Collin, Alyssa, Deann and our seminarian Johnnatan,” said Monsignor Colwell. “It is heart-warming and I am excited about the future of our Church with young people who are that dedicated at their age. They had to quit summer jobs to be able to do this ministry. They really felt called. Watching them interact with the kids has been very exciting. They are empowering the kids through this program. It’s a very good approach.”
Collin Backus, who is an incoming senior majoring in Theology and Philosophy at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., said there are many reasons why he is taking part in the Totus Tuus program—one of those was being asked to do the program by Shane Wieck.
“Practically speaking, I am here because Shane Wieck asked me, and I find it hard to say no to him,” said Backus. “I wanted to spend my summer doing this because of the transformation God has given me. He loved me first and then He sent me out.
“I truly thank God that I am here; it’s a very good thing. What we most want to teach the kids is how much God loves them and some catechesis on prayer. In our diocese the young people have a hard time praying, or even knowing what prayer is. Most importantly, we want them to know how much God loves them and how much we love them.
“I am getting to know my diocese better which is a very good thing for me, especially for discernment. I am also witnessing Christ’s love to children. It is amazing to me how much energy they have and how smart they are too. It is just as fruitful for me as it is for them.”
Deann Frausto is an incoming sophomore at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, majoring in Psychology, working toward a Master’s Degree in Family Studies. She also found it hard to say no to Shane Wieck’s request to be a part of Totus Tuus.
“Shane told me about it last September when we went to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” she said. “It took me awhile to say yes because I had decided I wasn’t going to have enough time. It turned out that everything fell into place.”
Frausto’s make-it or break-it moment centered around her boss at Texas Roadhouse letting her have a two month leave of absence, which she did. Frausto added that she gets so much energy from the kids she has taught.
“It is hard to stay up late at night and then get up in the morning. I am getting a lot of energy and great feedback from the kids,” she said. “It’s great to be able to spend time with them and to teach them, teach them about Mary and about Jesus and how to build a relationship with Jesus through his Mother Mary. An event like this does bring the Faith Communities together.
The theme of Totus Tuus this summer centers around prayer, according to Frausto.
“We teach them the Our Father and break down the Our Father and go more into depth about each part,” she said. “The first part we teach about God and then we teach them about ourselves. We teach the five types of prayer: thanksgiving, intercession, petition, blessing and praise. We teach them about the Glorious Mysteries and what happens in each mystery.
“I want to encourage parents who want to put their children in Totus Tuus, that their children are our future Church. I would highly recommend they send their kids to Totus Tuus.”
Shane Wieck’s sister Alyssa, an incoming senior at Benedictine College in Atchison, is majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Theology.
“I first found out about Totus Tuus four years ago, when Shane participated in the program in Denver,” she said. “Of course, attending Benedictine College, several of my friends have participate in the program across the country.
“When my brother asked me to join, I said yes immediately. Last summer, I participated in the program in Oklahoma and was hoping to see it in our diocese. When Shane called and said the program was approved for use in the Diocese of Amarillo, we cried and screamed on the phone for awhile because we were really excited about it.”
Alyssa Wieck said she has gotten a lot of joy out of the Totus Tuus program.
“Because of my major and loving to be with kids, I love to spend time with them,” she said. “They bring me a lot of joy and happiness. They renew my zeal for the Faith and in the Lord. It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to work and bring others to the Kingdom of God. I couldn’t want anything better to do this summer.”
Seminarian Johnnatan Ibarra is a second year student at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. He found out about Totus Tuus when Shane Wieck discussed the program with him last Christmas.
“I was very excited about Totus Tuus, because at Conception Seminary, it’s a very popular program for kids,” Ibarra said. “I think more than half of the seminarians in Missouri decided to go to the seminary because of Totus Tuus.
“I’m glad we have the program here in the Diocese of Amarillo. The youth can see the beautiful face of our Faith. It is a good time for the young people to interact with seminarians. They can see that being a seminarian or priest is a normal thing. This is a wonderful experience for me as a seminarian.”
Totus Tuus is also giving Ibarra, like Backus, Frausto and Alyssa Wieck, an opportunity to learn more about their diocese.
“We are blessed to have a wonderful, beautiful diocese,” said Ibarra. “During our first week in Hereford, I was spending time in prayer and thinking that these kids are going to be my parishioners someday. I know that today it is hard to live as a Christian, to live as a Catholic. It is great when they see they can be faithful, good Catholics. They can have fun and they can enjoy their Faith and share it with their peers and other people. They will learn that the Church is big and it’s beautiful. I want to thank God for this wonderful program and to thank the people because they are a special key piece of this program. Thank you especially to all the priests because they have opened their parishes to us.”
"The fruits of this program that we have seen up to this point, thanks be to God, are the result of these young people devoting all of their energies, time and gifts to the Lord in imitation of Mary,” said Shane Wieck. “She gave her total ‘yes’ to God in Faith at the Annunciation, a seemingly small yes in the eyes of the world in a little town in the periphery of the Roman Empire, but that ‘yes’ marked the beginning of our salvation. God asks of us to have the same spirit as Our Mother Mary: a spirit of total, self-giving trust in the Father's perfect will. That is what these missionaries are trying to teach these kids this summer, not only with their words, but also through the witness of their own lives.
“Pray for their perseverance in this mission, that their witness may bear fruit in making faithful disciples of the youngest generation of the Church and that the seeds of religious and priestly vocations may be planted in the hearts of the young people of our parishes.
“I would like this to continue next summer in 2017 in more parishes of the diocese with more kids and more teams carrying this forward,” said Monsignor Colwell. “This is the pilot program and is working quite well. The idea is hopefully that with the help of these four, Dutch and others, that they will grow the program and to grow the teens. In that way not only six lucky parishes but throughout the whole diocese, every summer we can encourage vocations and maintaining them. This was such a shot in the arm for Shane as a seminarian to help last year, and Johnathan this year. They are planting beautiful seeds. Their vim, vigor, faith, and dedication are so evident there will be a positive effect in our lives.”