The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd  

"Help me come closer to God, by myself." 

“If we want to help the child grow near to God, we should, with patience and courage...seek to go always closer to the vital nucleus of things.  This requires study and prayer.  The child himself will be our teacher if we know how to observe him.” Sofia Cavalletti

We believe that:

  • God and the child have a unique relationship with one another particularly before the age of six.
  •  the growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child.
  •  children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship.
  • the child’s spiritual growth is best served through tangible but indirect means.

God and the Child with the Adult

An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, all the more so when that relationship is between God and the child. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw nearer to God. The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to give selected presentations from scripture and liturgy that “call forth” the child’s response rather than “pours in” information.  The catechist listens with the child and together they ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?” The adult reflects with the child on the questions generated by the presentations with the materials offered to the child to aid the child’s reflection.

 
The Atrium - a prepared environement

The atrium (or prepared environment) is one of the elements that helps the relationship between God and the child to flourish. After a theme has been presented, the child is free to choose an activity that will make possible the inner dialogue with the “Interior Teacher.”

How does the atrium help to nourish this relationship?

  • The atrium can be compared to a retreat house facilitating recollection and silence.
  • The atrium is a place for religious life, for community and worship—not a classroom for instruction.
  • The atrium is a place of meaningful work through which the child can have a conversation with God.
  • The atrium was the place in the early church where the catechumens were prepared. For the child, too, the atrium is a place of preparation for involvement in the larger worship community.

 The Materials

The Materials in the atrium are often three-dimensional wood representations of a particular scripture or are items that represent what can be found in Baptism or Eucharist. They are attractively displayed and invite the children to explore and deepen their experience of the presentation at their own rhythm. The most important characteristic of the materials is there close link to the biblical and liturgical sources. The shelves might include maps of Israel and miniature environments representing the elements of the parables or the historical events from the infancy or paschal narratives that have been shown to satisfy the spiritual needs of the child. The model altar and its articles convey the centrality of the Eucharist. The Baptismal font and other liturgical items initiate the child into the liturgical life of the church.

Since 1954, in Rome, Italy, Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi pursued the revelation of the young child’s religious potential, marking over sixty years of research and published material at both the preschool and elementary levels. With the pedological principles of Maria Montessori and the theological moorings of Hebrew scholarship, Scripture studies, and Roman Catholic liturgy and doctrine, Cavalletti and Gobbi, developed an approach which not only appealed to the profound religious intuition of the younger and older children, but which evolved from the children themselves. Today the work (still active in Rome) can also be found in other cities of Italy, and in the countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Columbia, Croatia, England, El Salvador, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Latvia, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Papa New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and the United States.

The Association for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGSUSA)

CGSUSA 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 (contemplation and enjoyment of God) are predominant.” Other aims include building community among catechists in supporting their work with children in aiding the growth of the spirit of this method of catechesis, establishing rapport with the wider ecclesial community, and encouraging, documenting, and spreading the research related to the religious life of the child through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

CGSUSA Summer News

"Tend my sheep" John 21:16

We Welcome our newly elected Board Members

We are pleased to announce that Barbara Matera (Pittsburgh, PA), Patti Franz (Phoenix, AZ) and Mary Heinrich (Urbandale, IA)  were elected to serve three year terms on the CGSUSA Board of Trustees at our Annual Meeting held July 25, 2015.  We are so grateful to fellow nominees Kay Brizzolara and Hans Kraeger.  We appreciate their willingness to share their gifts in this particular way. We thank Kay Brizzolara (Amarillo, TX) for her dedicated service to our Association as a board member from 2012 - 2015 and wish her well in all she does in the future. You can read more about our board members here. 

 Our CGSUSA Timeline:  2014 Year in Review


 

Thank you, Pat and Gary Sauerman!

Pat Sauerman, Materials and Resources Coordinator for CGSUSA and founder, along with her husband Gary, of The Shepherd's Closet, has announced her retirement from her work with CGSUSA. While Pat will no longer be on staff, she will continue to serve the child.  We thank Pat and Gary for their generous spirit and the loving care they have shared with the CGS community.


CGSUSA News July 2015

The CGSUSA NEWS for July has been emailed to our members. 

  

2014 Annual Report

2014 was a year of celebration! We celebrated thirty years of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd working in the USA and sixty years in the world. We celebrated the sweet "hundred fold" fruit in the contemplation and enjoyment of the children with who we share a common religious experience.  The Board and Staff prepared a 2014 Annual Report that was shared with our Membership on July 25, 2015 in Scottsdale, AZ. 

 Click here to read or download your copy now.


Summer Newsletter for Parents

Our mission is to support catechists, parents, and others in the Church and beyond, as they grow in their understanding
of the religious potential of children.  With this in mind we now offer parent newsletters developed by CGS catechists to
serve the parents and child of your community. 
Please share them freely. 
Read the Summer Newsletter for Parents here.