Story by Leigh Calfee
NEBRASKA CITY (SNR) - Students who recently participated in Nebraska City’s Totus Tuus program enjoyed a week packed with games, contests, vocation talks, Mass, Eucharistic adoration and more. They were led by a team of young adults trained by the Diocese of Lincoln to teach the faith and inspire the next generation of Catholics.
Each member of the Nebraska City leadership team expressed one emotion when describing the week: joy.
Jeff Schinstock, director of youth and young adult ministry for the diocese, said leading Totus Tuus gives the teams direct insight into the missionary life of the Church.
“Team members receive instruction on how to teach, but also on how to receive generosity and hospitality,” he said. Once training is completed, team members travel to various cities and towns within the diocese to host parish missions for school-age participants.
Nebraska City’s Totus Tuus team included Christian Schwenka, a recent St. Gregory the Great Seminary graduate. Schwenka was excited to share his testimony with high school students; doing so caused him to reflect on his own life.
“Totus Tuus reaffirms and refreshes my own faith,” he said.
Cameron Hucke, another Totus Tuus team member who served in Nebraska City, had an experience similar to Schwenka’s.
“The joy and enthusiasm of the kids makes me want to have more of that joy. The faith is still so new to them, and they are very enthusiastic,” Hucke said.
Team member Tom Lilly also enjoyed the enthusiasm of Nebraska City students. He said, “Seeing the joy the kids have in everything they do reaffirms my own faith. Seeing their joy and faith pushes me to be stronger in my faith.”
Lilly is grateful for the opportunity to work as a Totus Tuus team member because he gets to experience something new and great every day.
Caleb Hile, a seminarian serving at St. Mary Parish in Nebraska City for the summer, pitched in to help the Totus Tuus team for the week. He noted all the young people so enthusiastic about their faith.
“It really helps me to see the young kids, their witness, their joy. It sparks my own joyful living of the faith,” Hile said.
Totus Tuus participants thoroughly enjoyed their week with the young adult team members. Kelly O’Donnell, whose daughter, Quinn, attended for the second year, stated, “Quinn really liked interacting with the older kids.”
Trina Schropfer said her daughter, Amber, age 7, was excited to share the new mysteries of the rosary she learned during the week.
“Totus Tuus is a potentially life-changing experience,” said Beth Beardslee, who attended the evening sessions for teens.
Nebraska City students gained a whole new appreciation for their Catholic faith by participating in Totus Tuus. For the Nebraska City team members, as well as other young adults serving in cities and towns across the diocese, Totus Tuus is much more than a fun-filled way to spend the summer. From training to lead parish missions to providing faith formation for groups of enthusiastic students, Totus Tuus serves to strengthen the faith of each team member. The program also fosters leadership skills and provides an opportunity for young adults to learn about the missionary life of the Church. The fruit of a summer spent as a Totus Tuus leader? Pure joy.