Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
“Where a child can fall in love with God”
Our parish supports and offers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program. CGS is one of the most important experiences in forming disciples. It is a formation in contemplation and deep relationship with Jesus. The spirituality of the children and the adults that is nourished in the CGS Atrium environment has the potential to permeate the entire community, and to assist the family in living their faith more authentically.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children, rooted in Sacred Scripture, Liturgy, and respect for the child’s rich relationship with God. CGS has been called the meeting of two mysteries: the mystery of God and the mystery of the child. Its focus is on the personal relationship of Jesus, who is the fullest manifestation of the mystery of God, and the child. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows and calls His sheep by name to a life-long journey of growth and transformation. While CGS has its roots in the work and educational principles of Maria Montessori, its development, as we know it today, began in Rome in 1954 with Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi.
Join in the Wonder of 3-6 Year Old Child (Level I)
The 3-6-year-old child is particularly capable of receiving and enjoying the most essential elements of our faith—the announcement of God’s love especially experienced through Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen. Materials on the life of Jesus Christ and his teachings help to make the mystery of God concrete for the child. The heart of the catechesis for children under six revolves around the Parable of the Good Shepherd. Jesus announces that he is the Good Shepherd who calls each one by name. The sheep listen to the voice of the Shepherd and follow him. The 3-6 year old child enters the mystery of the Eucharist by first learning the names of the articles used on the altar and then through the most important gestures including the preparation of the chalice, the epiclesis and offering, and the sign of peace. Through the experience of seeing these gestures, presented one by one, the Mass emerges as the Sacrament of the Gift. The child becomes acquainted with the historical character of the liturgy through the events of the Last Supper, Christ’s death, and His resurrection.
Why is it called “atrium” anyway? The word “atrium” actually means “portico, or porch entrance to a large house.” The Atrium was a term given to this space by Maria Montessori. It was chosen because in the ancient church, the atrium was a gathering space between the Church Proper and the street. It was the place where the catechumens, those preparing for initiation to the Church, would receive instruction. The Atrium has a similar purpose for our children, as it is a place to help them enter into full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgical and communal life of the Church.
What is a “prepared environment”? The prepared environment is a Montessori concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate independent learning by the child. In a prepared environment, children work with materials of their own choice and at their own pace. They experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline in a place especially prepared to meet their developmental and spiritual needs.
“The atrium may be compared to a retreat house; as such it should be a place that facilitates recollection and silence, even in its external aspects of wall decorations and other furnishings. It is desirable that the atrium be “Mass-centered,” that is, a place where special prominence is awarded to the material relative to the Mass; a place where the baptismal font stands out in the area assigned to Baptism. The Gospel should have a position of honor and be located alongside the parable materials and materials relating to the historical life of Christ.” – Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavalletti, p 56
2022 – 2023 CGS Offerings
Level I Sessions
Tuesdays: 6:15PM – 7:30PM
Wednesdays: 6:00PM – 7:15PM*
2nd & 4th Fridays: 9:00AM – 10:30AM
*CGS runs in conjunction with Faith on Fire
History of CGS at the Cathedral
CGS began at the Cathedral several years ago. We’re growing our spaces to include two dedicated Level I atria, 4 active trained catechists and 6 dedicated assistants. In the coming year, we will have two more atria dedicated to Level II (6-9 year old) and Sacramental Preparation.