Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
As a vision of the vestry and clergy of St. George’s, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd opened at St. George’s for four-year-olds in the fall of 2001. With the continued support of the vestry and clergy, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is now the only approach for discipleship used by our children, ages three to fifth grade.
Catechesis is a faith formation method developed by Sofia Cavalletti and her co-worker, Gianna Gobbi, using the principles of Maria Montessori. It is based on the belief that God and the young child have a very personal relationship.
The formation levels are ages three to six (Level I), six to eight (Level II), and nine to twelve (Level III). The rooms are transformed into prepared environments called Atria and display attractive materials that invite the children to explore and nurture their own experiences. The atrium is a place for religious life, not a classroom for instruction.
The teacher is called a catechist and presents lessons of the parables of Jesus, the historical events of His life, and the elements of our liturgy. Each lesson is begun with pertinent background information, including vocabulary the children may not know. The catechist shares the Bible story briefly with the children. The passage is then read from the Bible, using the translation read in our parish services. The solemn reading of the Holy Scripture is followed by a discussion of what the story might mean to the children or a discussion of what the liturgy might mean to the children or a time of quiet meditation. The catechist does not give his or her own theological answers but wonders with the children, using leading questions, about the meaning of the story or the information they have shared.
After the presentation, the child is free to choose an activity that will make possible the inner dialogue with our Interior Teacher – Christ.
Music is an important part of the Catechesis presentations. Songs are a form of prayer and also serve to reinforce presentations. Two music books are used:Singing with Joy and Songs of Love. Both of these books have the written words along with a CD of the songs sung by the children of Christ Church Cathedral. In 2005, we added a traveling music team that visits each classroom to enhance the beauty of the music through guitar.