Month: June 2016

16 days later

16 days later

So truth is I started writing this blog on June 3. It was the last day of training and I was going to write a blog about Totus Tuus and how training went.

Then I went home and fell asleep. And after I woke up, I was in Totus Tuus mode and haven’t had any time to relax and write since then.

But, it’s been amazing.

For more information about what Totus Tuus is, see my previous blog post.

It’s now at least 16 days later and I’m still not sure about a few things: 1. Where I’m actually going with this post, 2. When I’m actually going to finish this post, 3. If I’ll ever get more than five hours of sleep ever again.

The thing they tell us each year at training is that this summer will be the hardest, most rewarding summer of your life. And that statement is easily the truest way to explain my summers of teaching Totus Tuus.

The grade school kids see us in the daytime for six hours, for five days, and the high school kids see us for two hours, for five days, which means we see kids for eight hours a day, spread across six days. We have two hours off between the grade school kids and host family suppers and this is our time to either lesson plan, make phone calls, nap, or apparently write two sentences of a blog. And we have a total of about 24 hours off on the weekend, but about 18 of those hours are spent catching up on sleep. There’s not a lot of free time this summer.

My first week of Totus Tuus I was able to go to my home parish in St. Paul and it was amazing to see all the kids I’ve watched grow up in my church, to see how they’ve matured, and how they have changed from just last year.

Being in St. Paul two weeks ago, and Spalding (another great place with amazing people I will never forget) last week, I’ve noticed a few lessons I am going to learn this summer:

  1. IMG_8821
    I was prepping the kids for mass during one of my mass prep lessons. 

    Faith. I obviously learn more about my faith and grow in my faith because I spend all my time with people who have much more inspiring faiths than me, and I spend all my time talking about the faith and being a witness to the faith.

  2. Patience. I’m learning how to be with people. All the time. I learn how to act polite and hospitable in all situations, even when I’m tired and crabby. Because I don’t get a lot of time on my own to relax and de-stress, I’m learning how to have more patience with all the people I come in contact with. With kids I’ve never had an issue with having patience, but I am learning how to have patience with the adults I come in contact with.
  3. Empathy. I learn how to have empathy for other people. There are three other people on my team who come from completely different lifestyles than me and I am learning how to manage conflict with them and learning how to teach kids with them as a cohesive team.
  4. Perspectives. I’m learning to interact with a variety of people. This year’s team is a completely different make-up than last year’s team and I’m learning how each of them are different and how to handle different situations with them. I also come in contact with many different people at each parish we go to and I’m learning to make sure I really know where these people could be coming from before I start judging them.
  5. Flexibility. I am learning how to go with the flow and not be super worked up if
    everything doesn’t go the way I think it needs to. I am rem

    IMG_8823
    The building I was taught CCD in and where I taught CCD was tore down while I was teaching Totus Tuus in St. Paul. 

    inded that my idea is not always the best option. I’m also learning that sticking to a schedule is still important, but it’s not the most important part of the day. I’ve even learned how to teach a class and keep the attention of the class while the building next door was being torn down.

All five of these things, among others are some of the lessons I’m learning that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Totus Tuus is an amazing experience and it’s an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It takes a lot of energy, I have to keep up a good attitude (or at least appear to have one) at all times, but it’s also one of the most fun summers I’ve ever spent.

So there you have it; 16 days later and I’ve finally finished a post. I’m hoping it all makes sense, but after two weeks of Totus Tuus, you never know where my mind is going next. Just remember, God is good; all the time.

God is good! All the time!

First published in the West Nebraska Register on June 10, 2016.

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The Totus Tuus teachers are pictured from left: Nathan Vinton, Kendall Schumacher, Laura Hawk, Ashley Burghart, Jordyn Hulinsky, Megan Kreutzer, Tricia Young, Ryan Keisling, Alec Hruby, Jacob Bauer, Jonathan Miron, Houston Arens. 

God is good! All the time!
This common call-and-response is probably starting to appear in churches near you. Totus Tuus 2016 in now in parishes around the Grand Island Dioceses.
This year is my second year teaching this program. Totus Tuus is a weeklong summer catechistic program that travels around the Diocese. The Totus Tuus teams of four (two boys and two girls) will spend one week at a church before traveling to a new destination.
The Grand Island Diocese has three teams traveling around this summer and the teams are going to be (or already were) in my two homes—St. Paul and Chadron—and everywhere in between. The program will be in various churches around the Diocese for all of June and July.
Last year, all 12 teachers (three teams of four) were new to teaching. None of us had any experience on the teaching side of Totus Tuus. In comparison, this year there are four teachers who were teachers last year.
Like last year, the teams trained for three days in Lincoln with about seven teams from the Lincoln Diocese and two teams from Vermont. Then training continued for another six days at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward.
Last year training was overwhelming and stressful because we all went into Lincoln blind. We didn’t know the other people on our team and we didn’t know what we were really getting ourselves into. Plus the Lincoln Diocese does a few things different with their Totus Tuus program that we didn’t learn about until after we were trained and were told of the differences at one of the last few days of training.
This year, the Grand Island Diocese hosted a 24-hour training session in Grand Island before going to Lincoln to help us get to know the other Grand Island teachers, our own teammates, the basics of training and the differences to expect at the Lincoln training.
This year, I was grateful for that extra training because although it meant having to leave home and my family a day earlier, and although, I was already aware of what to expect at training, I felt more prepared going into Lincoln training and I noticed fewer freaked-out facial expressions at the training.
This summer is almost completely opposite in teaching from last year. We focused on the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary last year, and this year we will be teaching the kids about the glorious mysteries. The best thing about this program, in my opinion, is that the kids are always learning something new if they come back year after year. And this year is only the second year the Dioceses have taught about the Prayer/Praying Curriculum that we will also be focusing on.
The program is designed for students who are going into first through eight grades to come during the daytime Monday through Friday, and those going into ninth grade through recent graduates to come in the evenings Sunday through Thursday.
Bishop Joseph Hanefeld came to the Grand Island Training and asked us why we think this program is important to have in the Diocese and in the parishes. We all agreed that this program is unlike the other religious educations programs we have in our Dioceses. I believe one of the perks is that we start the kids in the program at a young-enough age that they haven’t had a real chance to turn away from the faith and we get to sometimes start that spark. Then we keep on them year after year with new information to help that spark grow into a flame. And finally, we still get to see them right before they head off for college—a time when faith and the dedication to the faith is tested more than at any other time—and we get to show them that you really can live out your faith in college because, hey, here are four college-aged students actually doing it.
It’s inspiring to see how each kid grows and changes in just the week we have with them and this year I’m extra excited to see how the kids change from year to year because I will get the opportunity to return to a few of the parishes I was at last summer.
It’s an amazing opportunity for all the kids in the Diocese, no matter what level or strength of their faith right now, so if there’s a Totus Tuus coming near you this summer, I encourage you to send your kids.