Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Sunny day sundae
Camp program aims to teach, inspire kids

By Michelle Martin
Assistant Editor

What do water by the bucketful, a human sundae and total devotion to the Lord have in common?

A lot, on the last day of “Totus Tuus,” a kind of parish mission as day camp at St. Stephen Deacon and Martyr Parish in Tinley Park.

The parish was the site of a pilot program for Totus Tuus, a faith formation and catechetical weeklong camp for grade-school children that is already in operation in the Diocese of Wichita and Archdiocese of Denver.

Each program is run by a team of four college- age people, two women and two men, with one of the men being a seminarian. Each of the five days includes instruction on the basics of the Catholic faith—mysteries of the rosary, say, or sacraments—but done with songs and skits and lots of opportunities for fun. Each day also includes Mass.

The week ends with an all-camp water fight, before concluding prayers.

Father Joe Noonan, the archdiocesan vocations director, brought the program to Chicago as a way to bring seminarians into contact with more young people—including their fellow team members.

The idea, he said, is to plant the seed of a religious or priestly vocation in the minds of the kids, while deepening their understanding of the faith, and to show team members that other young people like them are devoting their lives to the church. It might make those who have wondered if they have a call to consider it more seriously.

This year, two teams of four worked at St. Stephen because of the large number of children who wanted to participate.

Next year, teams will travel from parish to parish, spending a week in each, trying to set the parishes “on fire with faith.” That’s a fire that can’t be put out by a water fight.