(First published in the West Nebraska Register on July 29, 2016; http://www.westnebraskaregister.com/app.php?RelId=126.96.36.199.)
Ten different churches on the weekends; seven weeks on the road; five strings, mysteries, and fruits; three teammates; all for one purpose: be a witness to the Catholic Faith.
This summer I spent my time teaching Totus Tuus, a weeklong summer camp for kids ages first grade through high school. This was my second year of teaching and again, was an amazing experience.
This summer I had the opportunity to teach with a completely different set of college students from my team last summer. This summer I had the opportunity to meet three new friends who have influenced my life. Ryan Keisling would be a junior at the University of Nebraska Kearney this fall except that he decided to go to the seminary. He will be a seminarian for the Omaha archdiocese and will attend St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in the fall. Alec Hruby will be a sophomore at Doane University in the fall studying secondary science education. And Kendall Schumacher will be a junior at the University of Nebraska Kearney studying social work.
Each year of Totus Tuus we focus on a different set of the mysteries of the rosary and on a different section of the Catechism.
This year our mysteries were the glorious mysteries and the prayer section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The glorious mysteries are the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Decent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary, and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. These mysteries are inspiring and uplifting, and therefore, are easy to teach the kids about.
The prayer section of the Catechism is another story. You can teach anyone about the linguistics of prayer and different types of prayers, but you can’t force anyone to pray or have a relationship with God. Prayer is the idea of talking and listening to God and therefore establishing a relationship with God.
To cover that section of Totus Tuus we had various classes about what prayer is, different types of prayers, who we can pray with, and we dissected The Lord’s Prayer. We also teach about and talk about the reality of how difficult prayer is.
My favorite of the discussions we have with the high schoolers is the battle of prayer talk. During this talk I discuss the ideas behind three sections of the church—the church suffering, the church militant, and the church triumphant.
The church militant is us. This is the group of people who are on earth right now still fighting the battle to get to heaven. This is the group of people who are on the front lines of fighting this battle.
The church triumphant is the people who have been successful in the battle. These are the people who won and are now in heaven. These are the saints in heaven who are willing to continue helping us on earth.
The church suffering is the people in purgatory who are still in need of our prayers.
The reason I like this idea is because it puts us all in this battle together. My prayer life would have crashed and burned many times in my life if it wasn’t for my friends and family who have prayed for me and with me.
I love thinking about the church as a group of people working together for a bigger goal and that’s one reason I enjoy teaching Totus Tuus. I meet a large number of people who are all fighting this battle alongside me, and they are pushing me and supporting me.
And Totus Tuus encompasses that idea. It is a group of people—four college students to be exact—working together to succeed in a bigger goal—teaching kids about God.
So to everyone who had a part in my summer, especially Kendall, Ryan and Alec, thank you for being in my life and for making my Catholic community even better.