The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children. It is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the church and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather in an “atrium,” a room prepared for them, which contains simple yet beautiful materials that they work with to draw closer to Christ in prayer.
What Do Children Learn?
Children spend time enjoying and nurturing a relationship with the Good Shepherd, who is Jesus. The children are deeply affected by the boundless love of the Shepherd for His sheep as described in the Scriptures. They learn that He knows His sheep, calls them by name, searches for a lost sheep, and celebrates the found sheep.
A Better Understanding for Children
Materials and presentations on the life of Christ and His teachings help to make the great mystery of who God is more understandable for the child. Through geography, the words of the prophets, and infancy narratives, Jesus is established as a real person. The Paschal narratives are treated similarly, using model cities of Jerusalem, empty tombs, and cenacles for the Last Supper. Selected parables further the child’s wonder and curiosity about the great mystery of the Kingdom of God.
Children become familiar with the articles of the Eucharist and Baptism by arranging them in their own atrium on miniature altars and fonts. The children also become acquainted with the gestures of our liturgy and their meaning of the Paschal Mystery: Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. A prayer corner located in each atrium reflects the liturgical time of year by means of appropriate colors, prayer, songs, artwork and readings.
Working with Materials
If an adult hears a beautiful passage from the Bible, the adult might take a Bible, find the passage, and read it slowly again and again. He or she may think deeply about the words and perhaps speak to God in a thankful or hopeful prayer. A little child, too young to read, needs another way. In an atrium the child can ponder a biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy by taking the material for that text and working with it, placing wood figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting figurine apostles around a Last Supper table or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used for the Eucharist.
We currently offer the program for any 3K or 4K children of the parish. Please see the links to the right for registration information.