TOTAL is St. Jerome’s program of Youth Ministry for all high school parishioners in public and private high schools. At St. Jerome Parish we have had a strong and longstanding history of comprehensive Youth Ministry for our high school young people. TOTAL stands for “Teens of Today, Alive and Looking, Loving, Learning, Living.” During their high school years we try to work with teens and their families in a diverse range of activities to meet the spiritual, liturgical, service, educational, sacramental, and social needs of our high school parishioners.
We are eager for all parish teens to get involved with our programs and activities. Registering for TOTAL is easy; just use the simple form below. Candidates for reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation, please use the Confirmation Registration.
It is the goal of TOTAL to have every parish teen involved in the TOTAL program and activities, to feel valued and needed by their parish community through their leadership and service, and to capitalize on their God-given talents and goodness. As Richard Rohr expressed it in his book, Near Occasions of Grace, “Our job is not to do good; it is to do good together. Our job is not just to be good; it is to be the common good. Our job is not to announce the Good News to persons; it is to announce a new reality where it will be possible for persons to do good, to be good.”
Joe and Daniela O’Callaghan are the coordinators of St. Jerome’s Youth Ministry. One of our great strengths is the leadership of a team of adult and young volunteers and the great support of our priests, Fr. David, Fr. Joe, and Fr. Mike. Another great strength of TOTAL is the leadership of a Youth Board, open to any active teen member who wishes to discern programs and service activities.
Since 1987 we have begun our Sunday evening program with a Teen-led Mass. Lectors are trained by Suzanne Calnon and proclaim the Scriptures at our Sunday celebration with reverence and understanding. Juniors and Seniors who attend Eucharist on a regular basis are chosen and trained by Fr. David and Judi to serve as Special Ministers of Eucharist. One of our great joys is that those who have been trained in these ministries have gone on to college and have served on their college campuses.
During the school year, our high school teens participate in a diverse variety of programs and activities, both information/discussion and service-oriented. These have included:
Opening Night welcome to newcomers by the Youth Board
Helping with the St. Jerome Festival in September
Apple-picking trip to Bishop’s Orchards in Branford in the fall and returning to make apple crisp for guests at the Norwalk Soup Kitchen
Reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation in December
Christmas caroling at the Regional Senior Center
Emmaus retreat for Juniors and Seniors in January
Preparation during Lent for “The Fourteen Steps”, our portrayal of the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday
The 30 Hour Famine during Lent, fasting for thirty hours and raising funds to help feed and care for children around the world
Small group classes for Confirmation candidates during Lent
AmeriCares Homefront in May, working on a house of a neighbor in need in Norwalk, along with volunteers from the parish
Relay for Life, a run/walk fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in May
Helping with the parish’s First Communion celebration in May
6Graduation Mass and dinner, attended by Seniors from TOTAL graduating this year
Award of the $4,000 Kevin Eidt scholarship to an active senior who exemplifies the leadership and values shown by Kevin during his life and his in volvement in TOTAL
Helping with the St. Jerome Parish Dinner in June
ummer cookout for our Senior Parishioners
Summer retreat for Confirmation candidates at St. Birgitta€’s Retreat House in Darien
Guest speakers on topics such as Christian leadership, drug and alcohol use/abuse, and sexuality
Guest speakers from the parish Social Concerns Committee to help us understand issues of hunger and poverty locally
Guest speaker from Malta House, a home for pregnant women
Ask Fr. Dave Night, a free-ranging Q&A session with our pastor about all things sacred and secular
TOTAL Teen–Life Mass Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers are chosen and specifically trained for their roles. TOTAL Lectors proclaim God’s living word at the Teen-Life Mass on Sunday evening, and make God present in the Liturgy of the Word for the parish community. As they assist in distributing Holy Eucharist, TOTAL Eucharistic Ministers share the Body and Blood of Christ with their fellow TOTAL members, the TOTAL team, and all the parishioners.
Emmaus in early February is a special teen weekend, apart from St. Jerome’s. It is inspired by the journey the Risen Jesus took with two disciples, talking back and forth with them the whole time, as they walked together to the village of Emmaus. They did not recognize Him during the journey as He interpreted for them every passage from Scripture about Himself. But in the evening after Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them, they suddenly knew who He was. “Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked to us?” The TOTAL Emmaus weekend is an invitation to our teens to take the Emmaus walk, to think about the journey, what its meaning is, where they are going, who they will meet, who they will walk with, and, “hearts burning inside us,” to recognize the Lord and God’s love at work.
The Fourteen Steps is the live enactment of the 14 Stations of the Cross by TOTAL teens on Good Friday evening. Following more than two months of dedicated practices and rehearsals, TOTAL members and teen and adult volunteers perform this moving combination of spoken spiritual reflection, recorded music, and live song and action. We encourage all teen parishioners to participate in some way. We use singers, a chorus (the crowd), speakers, and tech crew for lights, sound and props.