CGS in the Orthodox Tradition

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is actively implemented in many Orthodox parishes in the USA. It first came to Orthodoxy in 2003 at St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Goleta, California. In 2010, the first Orthodox Formation Leader, Seraphima Sierra Butler, offered two courses in Santa Barbara, California and Franklin, Tennessee. Several Orthodox women participated and began atria in their parishes; St John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska; St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Church in Saskatoon, Canada; St Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, TN, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr in Murfreesboro, TN and Holy Trinity – Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Birmingham, AL.

Since that time, CGS has grown in Orthodox parishes nationwide as more and more people discover this beautiful method of spiritual formation for children. Many Orthodox people have participated in Nationally recognized formation courses. Two Orthodox women are recognized by the National Association as Formation Leader and offer courses, Shelley Finkler of St John’s in Alaska and Anne Marie McCollum of St. Ignatius in TN. Both women have offered formation courses that included discussion and demonstration of Orthodox translated presentations. Nationally recognized courses are also taught annually at St Herman’s Orthodox Seminary in Kodiak Alaska. In May 2017, St Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in New Canaan, PA, also offered a Nationally recognized course that offered discussion and demonstration of Orthodox translated presentations.

There are several online sources of information about the use of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the Orthodox parish. The first is a nice overview at St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Goleta, CA. The second is a closed Facebook discussion group for trained Orthodox Catechists

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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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