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Advocates for the Child’s Joy

CGSUSA is concerned with helping adults open their eyes to the hidden riches of the child, especially to the child’s spiritual wealth, so that adults will be drawn to learn from the child and to serve him/her. In a stark departure from achievement-oriented nature of our culture and schools, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd does not seek success, does not work towards a series of check-marks or gold stars. It does not set about to be important or to impress others. (Isaiah 10:33-11:10). It is faithful to the spirit of the mustard seed (Matthew 13: 31) in its slow and steady growth. We stand in solidarity with the least in the church.

In 1996 Pope John Paul II called for a “new evangelization” to reach out to this population. While embracing and echoing that call, Pope Francis has added an appeal for a new catechesis, one that goes “beyond simply the scholastic sphere to educate believers, from childhood, to meet Christ, living and working in his church.” The pope said the challenge is “how to meet Christ, what is the most coherent place to find him and follow him.”

Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi discovered over sixty years ago that children as young as three years old already know God and have a strong desire to deepen their relationship with God. To respond to the child’s unspoken request – “Help me to come closer to God by myself” – they founded the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS).

Cavalletti reflected near the end of her life that her work in collaboration with Gobbi “was not born in our own heads, nor did it come from our own hands; rather it has all been a GIFT.” Cavalletti and Gobbi joyfully received that gift and graciously passed it on to children and adults around the world.

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Welcome to CGSUSA

We believe God and the child have a unique relationship with one another. Children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship. The growth of this relationship is assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child.

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What is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd? The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was born from the joy of the children’s encounter with God. It has been observed that children of the same developmental stage, even those from widely varying cultural backgrounds, respond to elements of the Christian message in the same way.

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In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd adults are given the opportunity to embrace a method of catechesis (or religious education) that will deepen one’s relationship with God. Catechist formation in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is both instructive as well as experiential. It captivates both the head as well as the heart.

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We read in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, two by two; the journey was not meant to be a solitary one. It is essential for us as catechists to support one another as we prepare materials, work in the atrium, and observe the child. We come together in unity, as members of CGSUSA, to share the joy of this work.

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Through their joy, their wonder and awe, their capacity for love and prayer, and their radical simplicity, children offer us adults a glimpse of what it means to fall in love with God. This has been the work of CGSUSA for over 30 years: to advocate for the child’s joy.

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