Enjoying a summer show
Totally building faith
Until last week, the "Hail Mary" was just a prayer to 12-year-old Matthew Damm.
He'd repeat the phrases with those around him but never really knew what the words meant, he said.
After attending the weeklong Totus Tuus program at Holy Family Church, he gained insight into the prayer's meaning, he said.
"I've enjoyed learning about the saints and learning different prayers," Damm said.
The program, in its third year at Holy Family, translates to "totally yours." It's a statewide program that uses Catholic college students to teach the Scripture to first- through 12th-graders.
The activities during the day focus on the younger students, while the four-person team focuses on relating the Catholic faith to high school students in the evenings.
Benedictine graduate Adam Wilczak remembered the tone of one of the evening sessions.
He spent time talking with the local high school students and pondering the sacrament of the Eucharist.
"It's been something to do during the summer to pass what I've learned to the younger kids," Wilczak said.
During the day the leaders took time between lessons on the Ten Commandments and the rosary to have fun.
During a recess activity, Wilczak led students in a game similar to paper, rock, scissors. Elsewhere, students played a game of kickball or tag.
But after recess, the leaders led everything back to spirituality.
The Thursday afternoon lessons concerned the seventh commandment, which prohibits stealing. The group also taught students about the transfiguration of Jesus.
The leaders learn to keep their lessons engaging.
For first- and second-graders, the lessons are interspersed with art and crafts activities.
Leader Stephanie Joyce said she particularly enjoyed teaching the younger students.
"I really enjoy watching the kids' faces light up," she said.
The older students have the chance to mix in skits and stories to show what they've learned from the program.
Eleven-year-old Alexandra Bock said she performed a skit concerning Moses and the Pharaoh.
"I like that we did skits and stuff," she said.
Twelve-year-old Ashton Augustine said the class helped her become closer in her relationship to God. The lessons have helped her learn how to serve God, she said.
For 7-year-old Catherine Grosdidier the best part of the program was learning about the commandments. Her favorite was the third commandment, she said.
"I really like to be holy to the Sabbath," she said.
Janet Pickert watched her son, Ben, play during recess time.
"He learns about his Catholic faith, and he's in there with some dynamic young people," Pickert said.
The leaders for this year's Totus Tuus program were April Hoffman, Danny Schmitz, Joyce and Wilczak.
"I think all the kids like being here every day," Grosdidier said.