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CGS in the School

CGS in a Montessori School Setting
CGS in a Traditional or Parish School Setting
level 1 atrium child playing

“I have been nothing but AMAZED at what CGS has done for the faith of my children. This is truly a dream method of formation for our faith!”
– Jon Leonetti, Catholic speaker and author, whose children attend School of Mary Montessori in Des Moines, Iowa

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was developed through the careful observation of the spiritual engagement of children and according to the principles of Montessori education. Maria Montessori writes about providing the children access to an Atrium – an environment prepared with age-appropriate religious materials that enable a joyful expression of the child’s relationship to God:

“I would have the room built in an ecclesiastical style… There would be statues, here and there, of our Lord, our Lady and the saints; and the children would bring flowers to put in front of these… and also light candles before them. On the walls would be sacred pictures… The whole room would be fitted up as a sensorial environment calling out to the souls of the children.” – Maria Montessori, The Child in the Church

level 2 atrium child

“I see the spirituality of the children developing in the Atrium and it is changing our school.”
– Kindergarten Teacher, Catholic School

A school is a center for learning, where adults and children come to be formed. Montessori tells us that the child’s relationship to his or her environment is different than an adult, the child absorbs their environment. What the child sees becomes a part of him, not just a memory, but form part of his or her soul.

The spiritual formation of the children, the educators, and the family is a priority for the school. Establishing Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in a Traditional or Parish School Setting is a gift for the entire school community. The spirituality that is nourished in the Atrium environment has the potential to permeate the entire school community, and to assist the family in living their faith more authentically at home.

Sample CGS In-Service

Sample In-Service for the Board of Education, Pastoral Council or Finance Council Members

Each topic is a potential 20 to 40-minute in-service to be shared with the members of your parish board of education, pastoral council, or finance council members.

Each is a stand-alone topic, and may be presented in any order, but the first three are recommend as a foundation for the other topics.

  • What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
  • Maria Montessori and her Method Coming Soon!
  • 32 Characteristics: The Adult Coming Soon!
  • 32 Characteristics: The Child Coming Soon!
  • 32 Characteristics: The Method Coming Soon!
  • 32 Characteristics: Sacramental Preparation Coming Soon!
  • Catechist Formation Coming Soon!
  • What are the Level One, Level Two, and Level Three Atria? Coming Soon!
Montessori's Message to Teachers
Just prior to her death in 1952, Dr. Maria Montessori sent this message to teachers from the Catholic Montessori Guild who were gathered at a meeting in London, England.

Never, as in this moment, has the Christian faith needed the sincere effort of those who profess it. I would like to ask all of you, who are gathered in this meeting, to consider the great help that children can bring to the defense of our faith.

Children come to us as a rain of souls, as a richness and a promise which can always be fulfilled but which needs the help of our efforts for its fulfillment. Do not consider the child as a weakling: the child is the builder of the human personality. That this personality be Christian or not depends on the environment around him and on those who guide his religious formation. Do not think that because the child cannot understand in the same way that we adults understand that it is useless to allow him to participate in our religious practices. The staunchest and deepest faith is generally found among the unsophisticated people whose women take their children to church while they are still breastfed: the child’s unconscious absorbs Divine Powers while the conscious reasoning of adults is only human.

You who enjoy the great gift of belonging to the Catholic faith must intensely feel the great responsibility you have for the future generations because, among you, there are those who have renounced the world to bring the world to God.

Take then, as help in your task, with faith and humility, “the all-powerful children” (Benedict XV). Take as your special task to watch that their limpid light be not dimmed. Protect in their development those natural energies implanted in the souls of children by the guiding hand of God.

CGS in Schools in Your Region

Do you want to speak to someone who has implemented CGS in their school setting? See below for names and contacts for a school, who are Organization members of CGSUSA, who would be glad to answer any questions you may have about beginning CGS with your community.

Pacific Coast Region

  • Valley of the Sacred Heart Academy, Vacaville, CA, contact Michelle Kim at [email protected]

Southwestern Region

Northern Plains Region

  • Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School, Blaine, MN, contact Carolyn Kohlhaas at [email protected]
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Wichita, KS, contact Anne Krsnich at [email protected]
  • The Church of the Epiphany, Coon Rapids, MN, contact Mary Minor at [email protected]

Great Lakes Region

  • The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori School, Cincinnati, OH, contact Anne Marie Vega at [email protected]
  • Epiphany Catholic School, Normal, IL, Contact Jennifer Havens at [email protected]
  • St. Gertrude School, Cincinnati, OH, contact Cindy Wurzelbacher at [email protected]
  • Everest Collegiate High School & Academy, Clarkston, MI, contact Amy Pruchnicki at [email protected]
  • Lakewood Catholic Academy, Lakewood, OH, contact Katie Brocklehurst at [email protected]

Northeastern Region

Organization Member Benefits Include:

  • Organization Resources Including: In the Meadow and Parent Resources
  • Annual Journal
  • Communication Including: CGSUSA News, Foglietto, Member Memo, Member Directory
  • Voting Privilege
  • Mustard Seeds

Ideal for organizations seeking to support children, adults, and families grow closer to God through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. While this is not a group membership for individual catechists, the Organization Resources have proven to be very helpful to catechists, parishes, regional groups, and religious leaders using CGS in their work with children and families.

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There are many ways to help support the ongoing mission of The United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. 
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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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