The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Montessori-based religious formation program for children beginning at the age of 3 years old. It seeks to create and facilitate a sacred, “hands-on” space for children called an atrium, in which both the children and their catechists can hear, ponder, and celebrate the most essential mysteries of the Catholic faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture and in the Liturgy. Originally developed in Rome by two Italian women, Sofia Cavalletti (a Hebrew Scripture Scholar) and Gianna Gobbi (an Expert Montessorian- trained directly under Maria Montessori) in the 1950s, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd continues to spread worldwide.
Being in the atrium is not like being in a classroom - the atrium is a room specially prepared just for the children to help them meet Jesus in a special way. It is a reflective atmosphere, but also a celebrating one!
In LEVEL 1 (ages 3yrs - 6yrs), the children are introduced to the core elements of the life of Jesus, including the Infancy Narratives, the parables, and the geography in which Jesus lived along with the core elements of the Mass and the Liturgical year - to name just a few! The children are encouraged and guided to be independent, to be thoughtful, respectful, and prayerful as they do meaningful “works.”
In LEVEL 2 (ages 6yrs and up) the broad themes of study for the children include Bible Studies, the Gifts of Creation and Missal work, in-depth study of the Gestures of the Mass, the Maxims (teachings of Christ), and making Scripture booklets.
LEVEL 3 includes an even more in-depth study of the Bible, the Old Testament Prophets, Typology Creation, the Virtues, and the Maxims. (Typically Level 3 includes children in grades 4 and up) *We will be weaving in Level 3 Works and including them in our “Level 2 atrium as children are ready.
...The growing popularity of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is one of the most tremendous signs of hope I've seen in the modern Church.” - Simcha Fischer, Catholic Mom
“If we want to assist the child in his or her religious experience, an important area which we must attend is that of prayer. Prayer is, first of all, listening to God. It is the particular key that opens up the mystery of God’s relationship with God’s creature; it is a key that belongs to God, but which God gives to all… Prayer is an initiation to the mystery of God and is, itself, a mystery… our task is that of creating the conditions for silence and reverence which will help the child focus on and listen to God. We do this first of all, by preparing an environment with a prayerful atmosphere.” Gianna Gobbi, Listening to God with Children, pages 117-118.
If you’d like to learn more about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, please visit the national website at: https://www.cgsusa.org/