Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

For children ages 3 through sixth grade

“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

2021-22 Registration began Monday, August 30, 2021 at the Parish Center (Sue’s office) during office hours M-W, F 9:30 am -4:00 pm. We welcome new families to register with our parish and enroll their children in our in-person fall sessions, we welcome our returning families, and all those who have stayed away for a while but are ready to experience our rich and beautiful Catholic faith. Tuition will remain the same as last year: $35/child with a $75/family maximum. An additional fee of $45 will be paid in the spring for children who will be celebrating the sacraments of Reconciliation/Eucharist (2nd grade or older). Please note the diocesan policy is all children must have had one full year of religious education prior to the year of celebrating sacraments, meaning 2 years of formation in total.

Open Houses with final registration: Please come see the atria with your children joining us at our morning sessions T-W 9/21-22 from 10-11 am; or afternoons M-Th 9/20-23 from 3:30-4:30 pm. Questions or concerns, contact Sue Pagliccia 508-693-0342 or email

      Payment and registration forms are expected before sessions begin the week of Sept. 27th. Checks are to be made out to: Good Shepherd Parish. Please remember to bring health insurance information as a new form has to be filled out each year, and bring a copy of the child’s sacrament certificates: if he/she wasn’t baptized here on Martha’s Vineyard, and/or First Communion, if celebrated off island.

Sessions* will again be offered for 28 weeks during the 2021-22 school year:

MONDAY:    Level II (1-3 grade) and  Level III (4-6 grade) 3:30-5:30 pm

TUESDAY:   Level I (ages 3-K)  10:00 am-noon; Level II (1-3 grade) and Level III (4-6 gr) 3:30-5:30 pm

WEDNESDAY: Level I (ages 3-K)  10:00 am-noon; Level I (ages 3-K) and Level II (1-3 grade) 3:30-5:30 pm

THURSDAY:  Level I (ages 3-K) and Level II (1-3 grade) 3:30-5:30 pm combined.

*2021-22 adjustments will be made based on the number of students registering and available catechists.

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Previous First Communion retreat highlights which we shared with the community beginning with a Sunday 9:00 am Mass and the Calling By Name after hearing the Gospel on the True Vine!






What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?


“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.

CGS rejoice remain respond

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 x6. 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: 

This is a video of the beloved St. JPII visiting atria in Rome. He reportedly said, “That is the most beautiful homily I have ever witnessed.” Sofia Cavalletti describes his visit in this video, further adding that he said, “It is proof that really the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children.” He attentively “listened” to the children as they were immersed in their “works” and saw something special about this unique approach to religious education. Read the article at

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).