The Board of Trustees Election Process
The Board of Trustees governs the United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGSUSA). The Board of CGSUSA has eight trustees, each of whom is elected for a three-year term. A board member acts as a sponsor, ambassador, fund raiser, and consultant for the Association. Members prayerfully consider if they or someone they know would be a good candidate for the board. To help with this process, the current board has put together information regarding expertise sought on the board at this time as well as expected responsibilities of board members.
The United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will hold the 2022 Annual Meeting online on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. EST. There will be an election of Board members at the Annual Meeting.
This year, two members will complete their term and are running for reelection. There are two openings for this election. Claudia Petursson, who serves as board Treasurer, will seek her third term of office. Katushka Olave, who serves as Spanish Committee Chair, will also seek her third term of office.
Mary was sent to explore the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 1992 by her pastor, who had seen an atrium at another parish. Falling in love with the work, she began to build the environment with a small team of catechists. She discovered the joy with which the children received the announcement of the Gospel and saw a deep, unique relationship between God and the child.
Taking to heart the National Association vision to “make the work accessible to all,” she led a team of catechists and parents and began building atria for the service of their children at St Anne’s in Gilbert, Arizona. As she formed the atria, Gilbert quickly changed from a small bilingual farming community to the fastest growing city in the country. As the Director of the Atrium she found herself constantly faced with the question “Is this work for all our children? “ As the the atria grew to hold 1200 children, the answer was always “Yes.” She thought not about “Can we?” but rather “How can we?” At St. Anne’s, Mary developed a vision that goes beyond parish borders, forming friendships which reach out both nationally and internationally. Although she no longer serves on the staff at St. Anne’s, Mary remains a catechist and formation leader in her parish.
Mary has been a formation leader since 1997, giving three to four courses a year at home and abroad. While participating in the international The Word, Eucharist and the Child conference in Assisi in 1997, Mary heard of Marie Christlieb’s work with Totonaco people of Puebla, Mexico and their great need. Mary returned home and the next summer she and members of her community traveled to Puebla to see how they might help and build an atrium, but discoverd the best way to serve the people was to send three of the Totonaco to Rome to study with Sofia herself. While there she has found that living with people in a third world environment teaches so much about Jesus’ love for poor and the least. Since that time she has also served as formation leader to those in the Diocese of Brownsville who serve the children of migrant workers, the Diocese of Toledo with En Camino Ministry who serve the migrants there, and the San Carlo Apache Reservation in Arizona. She and Lourdes Vazquez also worked with The Franciscan Friars in Honduras and the Missionaries of Charity in the East Coast Region in New York, the Midwest Region in Chicago, thier Noviate in California. She as also worked with the Missionaires in the Philippines and in Kolkatta, India.
Mary has written of her missionary work in the 1999 and the upcoming 2010 Journal of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She has also written of her parish work in the 2003 Journal of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, co-authored with Lourdes an Occasional Paper of the Center for Children and Theology on a Bilingual Atrium, and has written articles that appeared in the 2001 and the 2006 volumes of Echoes, the newsletter of the Center for Children and Theology. Mary also developed and directed the DVD, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Where a Child Can Fall in Love with God.
Mary served on the Board of the National Association from 2000-2006. She was the first Development Committee chair, a founding member of CGS Fund Advisory Board and introduced the publication of The Found Coin. She was also a member of first cohort at Aquinas Institute to receive a Masters in Pastoral Ministry in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in January of 2010. She has worked extensively as an advocate for CGS in the Diocese of Phoenix since 1999 as catechist, a Director of Children’s Catechesis, and since 2003, as a presenter and formation leader for diocesan catechists and catechetical leaders.
Mary has been happily married for 37 years and delights in the friendship and love of her husband. She has three grown daughters with one grandson and another on the way. Her youngest daughter was the only child to live the atrium experience; the oldest has served as a level one catechist. As a native of Brooklyn New York, she loves the big city. She now lives in and loves the desert of Arizona and the dirt roads of the poorest of the poor. While Mary’s passion is for the work of CGS, she enjoys long walks with her husband, traveling anywhere in the world, and cooking big Italian family dinners on the weekends with her family and friends.
Karen has a son and two daughters who have all been involved in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as children but who are teenagers and young adults now. She credits her husband for his great support of CGS and has been happily surprised by his gifts in material making over the years. Outside of CGS, among several areas of interest, Karen enjoys watching baseball games, dance performances, and taking long walks with her family.
Mary Heinrich began her journey with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 2001 when her daughter was three years old. She has been trained in all three levels of the catechesis, and is a formation leader throughout the United States, working primarily in Level I and Level II courses. She works in the atrium at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa and St. Pius X Catholic Church in Urbandale, Iowa. Her involvement as catechist and formation leader has been a gift for her.
Mary has served as a Director of Faith Formation in the Catholic Church for twenty-nine years, as well as a consultant and editor for religious education publishers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. Mary has served as Chair of the Board of the National Association, and she has served on the Membership Committee, TLM Fund Committee and the LEAVEN Committee.
Her husband, Kurt is a permanent deacon and teaches theology at the local Catholic high school, is a Level One catechist, and enjoys making materials for the atrium. Their daughter, Clare, is a Level One catechist and enjoys working in the atrium. When not immersed in CGS, Mary enjoys reading, art and spending time with her family.
Lourdes began her work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 1991 as a volunteer with the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona. She helped to build the bilingual Atrium at St Anne’s in Gilbert AZ and welcomed many families and children at home and abroad. Lourdes works with all three levels of children and is a formation Leader in English and in Spanish. She has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of Phoenix and holds a master’s degree in Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation from South Bend, Indiana. She has served as a missionary in Honduras, Peru, The Philippines, and Western Europe with the Missionaries of Charity.
Lourdes continues to coordinate CGS in Spanish at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Gilbert, Arizona. She joined the staff of the National Association in 2006 and works as the coordinator for those in Spanish and bilingual communities. Lourdes is from Puerto Rico. She has been a resident of Arizona since 1989.
Lourdes comenzó su trabajo en la Diócesis de Phoenix, como voluntaria en la Catequesis del Buen Pastor en el 1991. Ayudó a desarrollar el atrio bilingue en la Iglesia Santa Ana en Gilbert, Az, donde recibió a muchas familias y a niños. Trabaja con niños en los tres niveles y es formadora en Inglés y en Español. Tiene un bachiller de la Universidad Estatal de Arizona, una maestría en Teología de la Fundación Teológica de South Bend, Indiana y ha servido como misionera en Honduras, Perú, Filipinas y Europa Oriental, con las Misioneras de la Caridad.
Lourdes continua coordinando la CBP bajo el programa de Español, en la Iglesia Santa Ana, en Gilbert, Arizona. Ingresó como miembro del personal de la Asociación Nacional en el 2006, donde es coordinadora de las comunidades hispano parlantes y bilingues. Ella es de Puerto Rico y ha sido residente de Arizona desde el 1989.
Debbie Dobson joined the staff of CGSUSA in March 2016 serving the Office of Formation. Her duties include receiving and processing all courses registered with our association as well as assisting with various formation projects and events.
Molly’s recent experience has been in Healthcare as a Project Manager, Implementation Specialist and Practice Administrator. While working as a Practice Administrator and Billing manager she managed employees, processed payroll and performed bookkeeping functions.
Through thoughtful prayer, she felt God was taking her on a different path, one where she can work for an organization with a higher purpose. She feels blessed to be a part of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and share in the passion for God’s dear children.
Lisa started her work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Parish in Gilbert, AZ in 2004. She began in child care and was led to formation training in 2007 by Mary Mirrione and her desire to learn more. She has completed both Level I and Level II formation training and is currently in a Level II atrium with Reconciliation age children.
Ernie started her work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Parish in Gilbert, AZ in 2001. She was gently persuaded into formation training by Mary Mirrione and was so delighted with the method that she has continued serving in St. Anne’s CGS. She has completed both Level I and Level II formation training and is currently in with children in a Level II atrium. She loves working with children of all ages and has also served children in Level 1.
Ernie is a native of Arizona and has two extraordinary adult daughters and two amazing grandchildren, Marissa and Kyle.
Elizabeth’s journey with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd began when priest new to her parish asked her to attend a presentation on a children’s formation program he wanted to introduce to the parish. This simple presentation of the parable of the Good Shepherd led her to formation in Level I, Level II, and Level III and to service in atria in three different parishes over the next 10 years.
After serving as project manager for the transition to a new web platform in 2019, Elizabeth now serves CGSUSA as Technology Administrator. Today, she supporting members interacting with and navigating the new website and managing additional website development and integration projects. Elizabeth also supports all technology-enabled projects and future planning. (email@example.com)
CGSUSA Board of Trustees
When I was thirteen years old, I saw the Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd presentation. I was deeply drawn to the work and I was eager to receive training. Because I was so young, I was somewhat surprised when I was permitted to join an upcoming Level I formation course. At the time, I did not know the remarkable impact Catechesis of the Good Shepherd would have on my life. My early years as a catechist were enriched by meeting Sofia Cavalletti and Silvana Montanaro in Rome. I went on to receive training in Levels II and III. I have enjoyed working with children in all three levels.
CGS introduced me to the Montessori method and I was hungry to learn more. After receiving my Primary Montessori credentials, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to visit Guatemala with another Montessorian who was providing support and materials for a mission school which was transitioning to Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This also presented an opportunity for me to “get my feet wet” with fund-raising. I was amazed by the generosity of others and the power of a passionate and humble request.
I had the joy of aiding in the establishment and growth of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Iowa where I worked as a Faith Formation Coordinator for four years. I was also able to assist with the expansion of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in two Catholic, Montessori programs during the three years I spent as the Montessori Guide (teacher). Most recently, I served as the Assistant Montessori Director at St. Jerome Academy in Maryland.
Throughout my work and in my vocation as a wife and mother of two young children, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has been a strong foundation and constant inspiration. CGS is a “golden thread” in my life. Indeed, CGS is one of the greatest gifts I have received and I hope to continue sharing it with others.
I now reside in Clinton, MD.
St. Jerome Academy serving 3-9-year-old children Roman Catholic
Formation: Level I – 2005, Des Moines, Iowa; Level II – 2007, Stuart, Iowa; Level III – 2011, Winterset, Iowa
Davette currently serves as a Level I formation leader and Director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at All Saints Episcopal Church Sharon Chapel and CGS Coordinator for Potomac Episcopal Community– a transformational collaborative in response to COVID-19 in Alexandria, VA. Since 2001, with support of the diocese, All Saints has offered Sunday CGS, ecumenical midweek CGS outreach, camps and Parent/Toddler CGS Montessori Atria since 2009. All Saints CGS shepherded catechists of multiple regional faith communities, hosted and led CGS formation, round tables, and welcomed seminarians from Virginia Theological Seminary.
Davette has been invited speaker and presenter at Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Annual Council, Bishop’s Clergy Conference, Shrine Mont Camps, the Union of Black Episcopalians Transformation & Renewal Conference at Kanuga Conference Center, and at Weaving Our Gifts having served on board of the Center for Children and Theology. Published articles have appeared in Echoes, Episcopal Teacher, and the most recent Journal of CGS- CGS in Quarantine.
A recognized transformational model for sustainable children’s formation and family ministry, CGS at Sharon Chapel has received substantial grants and funding from the Episcopal Diocese of VA for “evangelism and outreach” and was featured in diocesan wide stewardship campaign, in one of the largest Episcopal dioceses in the US.
Davette states that she has had the honor for 20 years of listening to God with children. In a time when we, like many others, are faced with fewer resources and more challenges, we have not only survived but have thrived. In thanksgiving for this ministry, the many children and families who have come through our doors over the years, and fellow catechists, she feels called to share our experience with others. She welcomes the opportunity to serve the membership of CGSUSA.
Matthew serves as the Director of Children, Youth, & Family Ministry at the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish at the University of North Carolina, Chapel, Hill. In recent years, he has been serving children in Level I and those in sacramental preparation (Baptism, Reconciliation, & First Communion). He has also created Parent Small Faith Groups each year and works to incorporate CGS into their prayer together with the Scriptures. In the upcoming 2021-2022 year, he will continue to serve those preparing for Sacraments, offer Level III in his parish. He is also participating in the seminal Infant-Toddler formation course in hopes that he can better minister to families from the very beginning of their faith journey.
Matthew first discovered the CGS in the pages of a magazine article just months before the birth of his first son. He was so intrigued, but it wasn’t like anything else he had experienced and he didn’t know where to find it at that time. Two years later, while living and serving in Comayagua, Honduras he found this precious pearl and fell instantly in love! It has changed him, his wife Camila, and their five children.
Matthew worked with a wonderful team of catechists in Florida to begin CGS in the parish there, before moving to Chapel Hill. One of his great joys in North Carolina is involving college students in the work of CGS. They are a mustard seed parish sending future parents, priests, and religious out into the world! Matthew greatly enjoys his (staff) role because it gives him a unique opportunity to welcome new families to his parish and atrium, encourage fellow catechists as they learn to follow the child and more abundantly live out the 32 Characteristics, and build a regional CGS community by hosting lunch or a retreat with catechists from across the state to build community. Matthew feels the Good Shepherd is calling him to serve our beautiful community in a deeper way.
I began my journey in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 2015 and realized very quickly the Good Shepherd was calling me to stand as a witness to his love for the smallest in His flock for the rest of my life. I am grateful to witness every moment the children share with God in the atrium, but I am particularly overcome with gratitude when I get glimpses of the tender relationship my own children have with the Good Shepherd as a result of our family’s involvement in CGS. I have been blessed to serve as a level I, II and III catechist and complete formation in all three levels. Recently my family moved, and we are working to create a Level I atrium in our new parish where we anticipate CGS will flourish.
I made definitive promises in the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in 2016. From 2017-2020 I served on the council of my Secular Carmelite community. I accepted the community’s nomination to be formation director for the 2020-2023 triennium. I received a BA in international studies and Spanish from the University of Dayton (2008) and a Master of Public Administration with a focus on nonprofit leadership from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2010). I joined the government relations office at Cleveland Clinic in 2010 and later moved to Cleveland Clinic’s Philanthropy Institute to support front line fundraisers through prospect research. In 2016 I joined the staff of Little Flower Parish as Coordinator of Children’s Formation, where I was privileged to work on a team of incredible catechists to nurture a dynamic CGS ministry. I stepped down as a parish minister in 2018 to begin homeschooling our five children but continued serving as a catechist (as I had since 2010) until our family moved and joined a new parish. I hope my professional experience in nonprofit program administration, prospect research and parish ministry could be of service to furthering the mission of CGSUSA
Alliance, OH starting a new Level I atrium at Regina Coeli; previously at Little Flower in Level 2 and Level 3
Level I – 2016, Canton, OH; Level III – 2017, Madeira, OH; Level III 2018 Columbus, OH
Katushka’s journey began more than ten years ago when she felt a call, and discovered the marvelous (maravilloso) love of God through her work as a catechist with the children in the Catechisis of the Good Shepherd at her home parish, Immaculata Conception in Durham, North Carolina. Since that time, her relationship with God has continued to grow, and the most wonderful thing is to be able to lead the children through these green pastures to marvel at the love of God.
Katushka is the Pastoral Associate at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and advocates for the needs of the Latino Parishioners. She is also the head of the Latino Parents Playgroup which serves Spanish-speaking mothers with children ages 0-3 years. Each group meets once a week for fellowship, music, sharing ideas, developing nurturing parenting skills, information sharing and providing referrals to community resources. She helps to empower parishioners to live lives of justice, healing, compassion and peace manifesting the Reign of God in Durham through formation in Catholic Social Teaching, direct service to “the least among us,” advocacy, community organizing, mental health and global solidarity.
She is also a catechist in all three levels and recognized formation leader in Level I and right now is working toward recognition a Level II formation leader. Pioneer for the Special Needs Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in her parish.
Katushka is originally from Bolivia, South America. She has lived in Durham, North Carolina for 29 years with her husband Juan and three daughters Francis, Paula and Sebastiana.
One of Claudia’s greatest honors is to serve on the CGSUSA board. As a board member, she thrives on the work that the board does from the governance vantage point and has fallen in love ever more deeply with the dynamic between the catechist and the child seeking a shared religious discovery. She has come to feel fiercely protective of this dynamic and also profoundly spurred on to attract the resources that support this essential relationship.
Her tenure on the board has taught Claudia the necessity for supporting catechist formation and for making it accessible to those who answer this call. It is always on her heart to secure donations and matching funds for The CGSUSA Endowment. Endowment funds, which are “forever gifts,” have funded scholarships that allow many to attend formation, become catechists, and serve.
For eight years, Claudia was Director of Faith Formation at Holy Family Catholic Church in Kirkland, Washington, establishing Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the parish. She was a founding member of The Sheepfold, The Pacific Northwest Consortium for CGS Sustainability, which directly impacts catechist formation in the region. As a member of the Seattle Archdiocesan Faith Formation Commission, Claudia was joyfully the first CGS member on the commission! Before parish work, Sister Yvette Mallow, OSB and Claudia founded Cabrini Ministry Español, a Spanish-language hospital ministry formation program. They also founded The Merciful Love Connection, supporting The Refuge of Most Merciful Love in Santiago, Chile, serving teen mothers and their babies.
Claudia and her husband, Ingvar, raised three children. Recently, she retired from parish work and was blessed with grandson, Eslo. She finds that it is a joy beyond measure to be his grandmother “with CGS eyes.” Because of this experience, Claudia tells everyone she knows – “Attend formation! You will see everyone you love with the eyes of Our Good Shepherd.”
Susan Stuhlsatz-Reese (Sue Reese) says that CGS is a gift that fell into her lap. She’s been active in the atrium since 1997, proclaiming and listening to the Word of God with children, and doing the behind the scenes work with the help of many hearts and hands to create and maintain the atrium. A catechist first and foremost, she expanded her service in 2010 to begin working as a Formation Leader. In 2014 she began volunteering with the Membership Committee with CGS.
Currently Sue serves on three board committees; Membership, Engagement, and Development. Happily this brings her into contact with many different people who share our mission.
Sue is married to a wonderful, supportive man who helps her with making materials and navigating the joys of family life with three grown children, and four grandchildren. Her household is completed with the presence of two pampered dogs