Missionary Abigail Muree reads to youngsters attending the Totus Tuus summer program in 2019. Photo courtesy Office of Catholic Youth

Toronto revives Totus Tuus program

By 
  • February 9, 2022

After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY) and Office of Vocations is well on its way to restoring its annual Totus Tuus program in 2022.

Totus Tuus — Latin for “Totally Yours,” the apostolic motto of the late Pope John Paul II — is an important initiative of the archdiocese that empowers Catholic young adults to become missionary leaders while offering youth a fun parish camp each summer facilitated by these leaders. 

Eamonn Doyle, the OCY’s associate director of programs, technology and communications, said his team and the Office of Vocations decided mid-January to move forward with restoring the camps.

“The past two years have been very difficult in having to cancel Totus Tuus, but after a lot of preparation — and prayer, of course — we know that we will be able to deliver day camps in parishes throughout the archdiocese in a safe manner and be able to provide formation for youth in a fun camp atmosphere that has been lacking these past few summers,” said Doyle.

Recruiting efforts for the camp leaders is well underway. Interested candidates were invited to submit their application by Feb. 14. OCY and Office of Vocations personnel will then interview these prospective missionaries later this month.

The team will be finalized in the weeks that follow. The activity really kicks off for those chosen May 31 with missionary orientation day. Throughout June, they will complete a walking pilgrimage (June 5-11), two weeks of missionary training (June 13-17, 20-24) and five days of planning specific lessons for the parish camps (June 27 to July 1).

Parish camps will operate throughout the expansive Archdiocese of Toronto every Monday to Saturday from July 3-29, and from Aug. 7-12. The missionaries finish their leadership experience with a final retreat from Aug. 14-16.

Grade 1-6 children attending the day camp will participate in a bunch of fun skits, games, songs and other fun activities, but they will also attend daily Mass and learn the significance of each part of the liturgy.  They will also participate in a learning curriculum centred on The Ten Commandments.

Grade 7-12 teenagers will also be instructed about The Ten Commandments, but the tone of the camp will be a more reflective experience. Participants will engage in small-group discussions and meditations about the Catholic faith.

Doyle is always inspired to watch youth expand their faith at Totus Tuus every year, and to witness the fire of the young leaders.

“To see the smiles on the faces of the children during Totus Tuus summer camp while they learn more about their faith through skits, songs and teachings by passionate young adult missionaries is quite a sight,” he said.

This passion on both sides has led to the Totus Tuus program to enjoying a self-sustaining legacy.

“Kids who participate in camps at the parishes and those who volunteer with the camp as teens often go on to post-secondary education and end up applying to become Totus Tuus missionaries for a summer or two,” said Doyle. “Sometimes these missionaries go on to discern a call to the priesthood or religious life as a sister.”

Pre-pandemic, about 20-30 parishes throughout the archdiocese expressed an interest to host Totus Tuus every year. Doyle said “we are on track to reach the same amount of parishes for 2022.”

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