A Totus Tuus reflection written by one missionary heart

The past two years the months of June and July have seen a young girl holding a suitcase in tow. That suitcase is weekly shown a new host home, carried upstairs, and by Saturday thrown into a minivan to go somewhere new, often with dirty clothes. A group of four twenty-somethings travel with missionary hearts, and temporary stays.

We arrive in each new town with a splattered windshield and bellies full of coffee, making it there thanks to Google maps. We roll into church parking lots with steeples we’ve never seen before, just a few minutes late. We are newcomers here, yet somehow old relatives stopping by to say hello.

In this transitory life, we still have a home.

Each day in liturgy there is a family meal lovingly prepared on every altar-table, with simple yet incomparable food. The murmured, sacred words of a Father tell a tale of old—one of an incarnate God who needs no calculated agenda to host, but instead rids the front door of its hinges for all who wish to enter and stay, not just for a night or a week, but for beyond a lifetime. A family with ties that go deeper than bloodlines listen to the ancestral story once more.

Every Catholic church is home.

The days are joyful. The days are long. As the afternoon heat subsides, we enter the sanctuary, sometimes wide-eyed, or sometimes weary. Dip our fingers in the waters of baptism once more. Trace the familiar reality of the cross. Bend our right knee to a king enthroned in a humble dwelling place. The statues are old friends, and the rosary beads a heavenly hand to hold.

Every Catholic church is home.

Vast or small, all the same. Marble or stone. Stained glass or painted walls, pews or chairs. Each week, these missionary hearts will kneel, sit, cry and sleep on the creaky wood benches after hours of wearing a child’s skin. Lit candles are lights left on the front porch as a guiding welcome after a long day. The lingering smell of incense is a loving mother’s perfume. The silence is a peaceful embrace.

Here, we are home.  

Totus Tuus is a catechetical program run by certain dioceses throughout the United States. Missionary teams of (typically) four college students and seminarians travel to a new parish each week to teach elementary kids in the day program, and interact with teens in the night program.

During the summers of 2018 and 2019, I had the privilege of serving as a Totus Tuus missionary for the Archdiocese of Denver. These two summers were the most tiring yet fulfilling of my life.

+ Totus Tuus, Maria. +

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