What will my child learn in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is based on the belief that the young child is already in relationship with God! Each week your child will hear aspects of Bible or Liturgy expressed in ways that will lead to silence and study, contemplation and prayer.
Materials used in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd have been designed over the last 50+ years to meet the developmental needs of the young child. These materials are based on the Montessori method of education, a method that addresses the needs of the whole child: body, mind and spirit. Also, children are divided into groups according to their developmental needs. Level I for 3-6 year olds; Level II for 6-9 year olds, and Level III for 9-12 year olds.
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is held in a room called the atrium. This environment is carefully prepared to be a calm and inviting place for children. The adult CGS catechist will present aspects of Bible and Liturgy to the children each week; then the children will be able to choose and use the materials in the atrium that will help them grow in their love relationship with God.
During each atrium session, children are allowed to work alone and at their own pace. Children are encouraged to walk slowly and speak quietly, and to listen for the voice of Jesus in their hearts. The prayer life of the children is supported through use of Scripture, songs and silence.
Your child will learn about the Kingdom of God, the Sacraments, the life of Jesus, and other elements of the Catholic faith tradition. But more importantly, your child will fall more deeply in love with God!
History of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Beginning in 1954, in Rome, Italy, Sofia Cavalletti and her co-worker, Gianna Gobbi, developed an approach which not only appealed to the profound religious intuition of younger and older children, but which evolved from the children themselves.
The National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was formed in 1984 in North America with its main aim being that of “involving adults and children in a common religious experience in which the religious values of childhood are predominate.”
For more information, go to: www.cgsusa.org
What happens in the Level I atrium?
We begin the year by learning about this special room called the atrium and how to walk, talk and treat the materials and each other while we are together in this room. Materials focusing on ‘practical life’ skills, e.g. pouring water or sweeping, are presented to the children. These exercises are of great interest to them, and as they repeat these exercises the children gain control of their bodies. Eventually, this self-control translates into the ability to sit in silence, and to pray!
Presentations follow the liturgical year: infancy narratives are presented in Advent, the Last Supper in Lent, the Empty Tomb in the Easter season. Other 3-6 materials include articles of the Mass, geography works exploring the land of Israel at the time of Jesus, gestures of the Mass and of Baptism, and other work. Cavaletti and Gobbi found that the parable that resonates most deeply with children this age is the parable of the Good Shepherd. This image is lifted up often and the children take time to enjoy the great love the Good Shepherd has for each one of them.
I am the Good Shepherd, I know mine and mine know me. -John 10
What happens in the Level II atrium?
Level II contains many materials found in the Level I atrium, but with more detail. Salvation History is introduced and the role each of us plays in it, as well as many works on the Bible – how it came about, the names of the books, and how to look up Scripture passages. There are special parables presented in preparation for First Reconciliation and First Communion. The parable Cavaletti and Gobbi found resonated most with children this age is the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-11). Moral parables are presented, and the sayings of Jesus called Maxims which help us understand how to relate to God, ourselves and each other from a moral perspective. Prayers and gestures of the Mass are synthesized. We ponder the gifts of God and our response to those gifts as we work to build the Kingdom of God.
I am the vine, you are the branches; remain in me. -John 15
What happens in the Level III atrium?
Level III centers on the part of Salvation History involving the Peoples of God, including a timeline of the history of the Jewish People. Sacraments are studied in depth, as well as all the prayers of the Mass. Typology is used to reflect on several Old Testament stories: Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the lives of Abraham and Moses. Mediations on Reconciliation, the moral life, and the life of the prophets are received. The children learn more about Parousia—the moment Jesus returns and “God will be all in all”—and what they can do to prepare for this time. 9-12 year olds are “children of hope” and want Jesus to come to us NOW!