Interview with “Totus Tuus” group
Other languages: English, Hrvatski
Date: July 27, 2005 , Originally published October 22, 2001
In the second week of October 2001, we noticed the presence of a group of young people in Medjugorje, who joined our daily “house orchestra”, playing and singing during the evening prayer hours in the church. We asked Leon Dolenec to tell us something about this group. (More about it: http://www.totus-tuus.de)
We noticed that your group feels at home here. We heard that “Totus Tuus” is one of the fruits of Medjugorje.
Leon Dolenec: «Totus Tuus» is a group of collaborators for the New Evangelisation. A number of people from the Ruhrgebiet, Germany, were enthusiastic about the messages of Our Lady and wanted to do something for the Church. They started praying and fasting for five or six years. After this time, some members remained, while others left the group. One man became a priest, and one girl entered a convent. Three or four remained, and other young people started to join. In 1994, we organised our first pilgrimage to Medjugorje; it was still wartime. We saw the war on television, but in spite of it, we wanted to organise a pilgrimage for young people. There were about 70 young; some were converted in Medjugorje. They began to evangelise with us.
How do you evangelise?
Leon Dolenec: We started by going to visit prisoners. We met a priest, who worked with prisoners, mainly with young prisoners. With him, we prepared Holy Masses for the youth in prison. We also gave our testimonies. We then went to the streets. From time to time, a parish would invite us to give our testimony or to play and sing.
Since then, we organise regular pilgrimages to Medjugorje. More and more young people come with us. They are enthusiastic and they bring their relatives and friends. This is how the group has grown. Many young people want to give their testimonies about what they have experienced in Medjugorje. They want to evangelise.
In 1997, we decided that we had to choose our name. The smallest group of permanent collaborators started to pray and to share about this, and we received the name “Totus Tuus” – “Completely Yours”. The name “Totus Tuus” expresses the Marian dimension: to live the message of Medjugorje and to transmit them to others. We then, went to the Bishop of Paderborn and we presented our work and ourselves to him. He was enthusiastic and encouraged us in everything.
Who are the members of «Totus Tuus»? What kind of group is it?
Leon Dolenec: It is a group of young people and families who live in the world, throughout Germany. We meet for prayer, and on weekends, we meet to evangelise in parishes. This has become our main vocation: parish missions. We work with youth in the parishes.
How do you educate your collaborators for this mission of evangelisation? Does it come spontaneously?
Leon Dolenec: It comes from living the messages. Those who have been here from the beginning already have some experience and they work with new members. One has to jump into cold water! We progress. We have a leadership, which leads the community. Members make a promise for one year to give their free time for the New Evangelisation. It is completely free, it is a decision, and it is the fruit of their desire. As candidates, we prepare ourselves for that, and after preparing, we can give our promise for one year. The leadership is firmly committed: all of them have decided to give their lives for the New Evangelisation. It is a personal and free decision, which can be lasting. We all live normally in the world, working, studying, going to school…
How do you find time?
Leon Dolenec: We do not watch television, we do not play with the computer, we do not go for useless parties; we are occupied with Jesus and Mary. We have about 100 collaborators. We also have a circle of friends who help us in different ways, a few thousands of them.
Do priests accompany you?
Leon Dolenec: Our group is a movement of lay people, but we are accompanied by several priests. We suffer when we see people who remain closed to the message of Medjugorje. They know it, but they remain closed. This is a cross. Our Mother has come for 20 years, and they do not want to know about it! We are happy for those who open their hearts to the message. In the parishes, there are always people who wait for this: for someone to come to tell them about the messages.
Is «Totus Tuus»present only in Germany?
Leon Dolenec: This summer, we have organised the first pilgrimage for young Croatians from Cakovec. They have now founded a prayer group with 30-40 members. It’s name is also “Totus Tuus”. It takes time. Their group is growing. Let them first live for some years the message, let them become firm. Every Saturday evening, they meet in St. Nicholas’ church in Cakovec for prayer, biblical sharing and singing. Later on, we shall see if they can be sent on mission. We have contacts also with other countries: Austria, Holland, Luxemburg, Switzerland…
You are going back to Germany. Do you have projects?
Leon Dolenec: We have edited a CD in German with a clear message: on the front page are David and Goliath. David throws his five stones, each one has its name, a message of Medjugorje: Confession, Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Bible… The stone, which hits Goliath’s head is the Eucharist. Our songs also speak about this messages. Through this CD, we want to address ourselves to young people who are far away from the Church, who find Church boring. Many are not satisfied with the way the Good News is being spread today.
What is that «more», which Medjugorje and «Totus Tuus» bring to the youth?
Leon Dolenec: It tells them clearly how to live, which way to take in life. Young people feel very disoriented today. They have no goal. This is why they worship different “stars”. They try to find recognition through the way they dress, the way they talk, money or similar things. They loose true values, which only God can give: purity, fidelity… This is what we try to give to young people. Often we do not even mention Medjugorje. We simply live the messages. The messages of Medjugorje are what Church teaches. In this sense, even the Pope, consciously or unconsciously, is spreading the message of Medjugorje. We have to know the right way to bring people to the right path.
Thank you for this conversation. We wish to you much joy and grace of God on the way of the New Evangelisation with the help of Our Lady's messages!