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General FAQ

General FAQ

Q: What does the word “catechesis” mean?
A:

The word “catechesis” is often defined as oral instruction given to catechumens (those preparing for baptism). It is from a Greek word, related to the word “to teach,” and means “resounding” or “echoing down.” It refers to the passing on of the truths of our faith. Though most of the children we serve are baptized in infancy and are not actually catechumens, their catechesis has been delayed until the earliest ages at which they can participate in it.

Q: Is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Catholic?
A:

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd came about through the work of two Roman Catholic laywomen in Rome: Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi. They were inspired by the educational principles of Maria Montessori, also a Catholic. The materials they prepared for children, since 1954, were based on the Bible, the Roman Catholic liturgy and sacraments, Tradition, and Church teachings. In 1985, a Level I course welcomed participants from both Catholic and several other Christian traditions. Since that time, the ecumenical character of the roster for each course has continued. All presentations are offered as given to us by Sofia and Gianna (Catholic) and participants are welcome to adapt them to their own traditions with the encouragement of the national association and help from CGS formation leaders who share their traditions.

Q: Is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd a curriculum that I can purchase?
A:

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is not a published curriculum. It is handed on through a series of formation courses for adults that include discussion of biblical, liturgical, and salvation history themes; a presentation of each material as it is given to children; prayer and celebration in the style of the atrium; and much more. Each course is approximately 90 hours.

Q: Can I begin by taking the Level II or Level III courses?
A:

The Level I course is the foundational course for anyone interested in offering Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to children ages 3 to 6, 6 to 9, or 9 to 12. The Level I course presents the seminal themes that continue through all three levels. It focuses on the writing of the “album page,” which prepares the catechist to compile their albums for all three levels. It is an orientation to the atrium and the life of the atrium. The work of the 6- to 12-year-old child is often based on what the young child receives in this first atrium level. For example, five of the infancy narratives are presented in the Level I course. In Level II, we present how to synthesize those narratives.

Q: How much does a course cost?
A:

The cost of a course varies from place to place around the country. In the course list on this website (Courses for Adults), each particular course has a contact person. You can receive information or a course brochure by calling or emailing that person. Some courses are subsidized by a parish or diocese, so the cost can range from $300-$1000 for a complete course.

Q: Which books should I buy for the Level I course? Level II? Level III?
A:

For Level I, The Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavalletti, Listening to God with Children by Gianna Gobbi, The Good Shepherd and the Child by Sofia Cavalletti et al, and CGS in a Parish Setting by Tina Lillig comprise a solid overview of this work.

For Level II, The Religious Potential of the Child 6 to 12 Years Old by Sofia Cavalletti and The History of the Kingdom of God, Part 2: Liturgy and the Building of the Kingdom, also by Cavalletti, are important to understanding the work as it is given to the six to nine year old child.

In addition to the books listed above, The History of the Kingdom of God, Part 1: From Creation to Parousia by Cavalletti is important to the work for the 9-12 year old child. Other books, articles, and readings will be suggested for each course.

Q: If no one in our parish can travel to take the Level I course, can we have the course here in our parish?
A:

Yes, but do consider attending a Level I course before hosting one, especially if you are beginning Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in your parish and you do not have an atrium established. It is so beneficial to see an existing atrium with all materials as part of a course experience. This gives the best guidance for catechists to know how to prepare the environment for the children and for adults in a course. Another option if you are interested in hosting a course is to see if an atrium exists near your parish and discuss the possibility of sharing hosting duties for a course at the other parish. We offer a packet for those interested in hosting a formation course, which will give you guidelines for your planning. You can download a Hosting Packet from this website.

Q: Can a 7-year-old child begin the Catechesis? (or an 8- or 10-year-old?)
A:

In CGS, every child is welcomed into his or her age-appropriate atrium. What a child may have missed in a previous atrium level seems to be “picked up” simply by their living the life of the atrium.

Q: Where can I buy atrium materials?
A:

Complete, finished atrium materials are not for sale. We do have some materials available in our on line store and in Shepherd's Closet.   A few unfinished materials are available from various sources. See “Why We Make Our Own Materials” (Document Library) and the “Source List” given out at courses (Members Document Library). Once you are taking a formation course, we encourage you to purchase a subscription to the Materials Manuals, which are available to CGSUSA members on this website. You can find more information here.

Q: How can I find out if a material has changed?
A:

Our association regularly receives updates on material changes from the International Council. These changes will now be noted in the online Materials Manuals. If you have signed up for broadcast emails, you will receive an email letting you know of material changes as they are made.

Q: Could Catechesis of the Good Shepherd be offered to children in a home setting?
A:

Many parents have taken the formation courses for just this reason. Groups of home schooling parents sometimes collaborate in setting up an atrium in their area. While waiting to attend a course, parents often begin to read the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd publications that are particularly helpful in working with children at home: Listening to God with Children; The Good Shepherd and the Child, A Joyful Journey by Cavalletti, Coulter, Gobbi, and Montanaro; A Is for Altar, B Is for Bible by Judith Lang Main, and a set of five little books from Colombia, directed to parents, entitled God and the Child Collection.

Q: How can I become a formation leader?
A:

Our association has a process in place to assist those who feel called to lead CGS formation courses. A catechist who begins this process must be an association member. The catechist also must have completed all three levels of formation courses (or is close to completing Level III), must have written a personal album at the level at which she/he wants to lead courses, must demonstrate at least three years experience in the atrium with children at that level, and has an experienced formation leader as a mentor. At this point, the catechist may want to contact the Director of Formation to request a Formation Leader Application.