Ben Steary grew up without faith.

As a young adult, he became more aware of the “God-shaped hole in his heart.”

During a philosophy of religion class at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, he was introduced to Catholicism and St. Albert the Great University Parish and joined the Church in 2019.

The Catholic Foundation is honored to support St. Albert the Great Parish through the Evangelization Endowment held at the Foundation for the ministry’s benefit.

This summer Ben shared the Gospel with young people as a missionary with the Totus Tuus program through the Diocese of Marquette. The Totus Tuus program is staffed with young adults including seminarians and college students. The three Upper Peninsula (UP) Campus Ministries at Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State University, and Northern Michigan provide many of the missionaries as well. 

“Being able to serve in ministry as a full-time summer job has been extremely rewarding,” Ben says.

The Totus Tuus program started in the Diocese of Wichita in the 1980s and normally involves four-person teams of young adults traveling from parish to parish throughout the UP for the summer. These teams share the Gospel and promote the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Eucharistic worship, and Christian witness to youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic led Fr. Ben Hasse, Vocations Director for the diocese, to look to God for a new plan.

“The Totus Tuus program has been tremendously fruitful for us as a diocese since 2013. The prospect of having to cancel the program this summer was really discouraging. After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided to take it online. It’s been an adventure, but completely worth the effort,” shared Fr. Ben.

Totus Tuus Digital 2020 was created. With saint skits, videos reenacting the mysteries of the rosary, lessons about the Ten Commandments, and silly songs, the missionaries have created a virtual learning opportunity for youth in the Upper Peninsula and across the country. To date, the program has subscribers in 12 states.

Totus Tuus, a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours,” was the motto of Saint Pope John Paul the Great. The phrase was taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary,” and it signifies the missionaries’ desire to give themselves entirely to Jesus through Mary. Totus Tuus calls upon college students and seminarians from the Diocese of Marquette to carry the mission to children and families. 

Cassie Zimmer, a Michigan Tech and St. Al’s student, has served for three years as a Totus Tuus missionary. “I have learned how to become a better leader,” she says. “I know that I will be using these leadership skills every single day.”

The missionaries have developed original video content that is sent out each week to subscribers. These video lessons are geared toward Kindergarten through 12th grade, and are used by catechists and parents with their students.

All materials will continue to be available online for anyone to use throughout the year at Totus Tuus. Subscribe to the Totus Tuus, Diocese of Marquette YouTube Channel to watch all of the videos.

Support existing and expanded ministry to students at St. Albert the Great University Parish of Houghton, in perpetuity by supporting their evangelization endowment held at the Catholic Foundation.