“In catechesis . . . it is Christ alone Who teaches. Anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church # 427
Our 2016-17 sessions end May 15-18th. Enjoy their work folders! Congratulations to our First Communion students, May 6, 2017!
For children ages 3 through sixth grade
“Help me draw close to God by myself”
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is an approach to the religious formation of children that is rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy of the Catholic Church, and the self-teaching educational principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. This method of nurturing the faith life of children evolved from children themselves. Beginning in Rome in 1954, CGS is the result of a long period of careful observation of children by Dr. Sofia Cavalletti, a Hebrew and Scripture scholar, along with Gianna Gobbi, her Montessori collaborator. With great respect for the dignity of the child and their religious capacities, they developed an atrium – a carefully created environment that helps the child work independently of the catechist/adult as much as possible. It is not a place of religious instruction but of religious life which recognizes the deep bond between God and the child, first; the difference of “pouring in” vs. “calling forth” that which already exists. The atrium certainly is a place of learning, but together they are listening for the one Teacher, who dwells within them. This experience becomes formative in the child’s whole person and generates great joy.
So why have a prepared environment? The small child has the power to absorb what is in his or her environment; what they take in becomes a part of them-enriching their intellectual and spiritual life. The family is the first and most important environment experienced by human beings. It is where cultural, social, religious and moral characteristics are expressed. Vatican II calls the family, “the domestic church,” or the primary educator of children in their faith. The Church is another setting for one’s religious life shared together with a community of believers. In the early Church the atrium was the place where the catechumens were prepared. For us, the atrium is the place in which communities of children live a religious experience together with some adults that prepare them to participate in the larger family community of our parish and the world. Here, children are initiated into the realities of Christian life. Like the prepared environment of the Church, the atrium is a place where the child can listen to the proclamation of the Gospel, then in age-appropriate ways meditate on it, and begin to live it according to the child’s own rhythm. It is here where their work becomes prayer; it is their response to the Good News.
There are different age groups contained in the three levels of atrium offered:
Level I: children ages three through kindergarten
Level II: children in 1st grade through 3rd grade
Level III: children in 4th grade through 6th grade
Catechesis is an ancient word meaning “echoing God’s Word.” The person who does this is known as a catechist. CGS catechists receive 90+ hours of training before leading a CGS session. These catechists find their own spiritual life is fed, as well as the spiritual lives of the children they serve. In many ways, this is adult formation given through the child! To inquire about catechist training, please contact Sue Pagliccia 508-693-0342 x106. CGS continues to spread out through many Christian faiths in countries all over the world. For more information on Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, see the national office website: www.cgsusa.org.
Preaching to Children by Dr. Ann Garrido In this 54 minute video, Prof. Ann Garrido addresses homilies for children. After a brief introduction to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (05:23), she identifies seven characteristics of children (10:39) and the three great mysteries of life (29:11) to which children relate. At the end of this presentation Dr. Garrido offers five tips for preaching to children (35:18).