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CGS in the World

A Sign of Unity
A Common Spring
The Gift
Partial 2017 Consiglio around a wooden table.

The International Council, also known by its Italian name Consiglio, held its first meeting in October 1996 in Rome, Italy.

Sofia Cavalletti saw its founding as an important step in the development of our work to support the “co-involvement” of many — young and old — in the atrium (“The Founding of the International Council,” 1998 Journal).

For the twenty-one people who came from seven countries where Catechesis of the Good Shepherd had become widespread, the aim of the Consiglio was to “be a sign of unity,” joining representatives of associations around the world in a special friendship. Such friendship sprung “in a deep and spontaneous manner right from the first and did not allow them to be discouraged by the differences in ages or by the different settings where people lived or even by the separation of an ocean.”

The greatest importance of the Consiglio’s identity is point #2 (of the 32 Points of Reflection) – The International Council (Consiglio) of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a sign of unity of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd which is present in various countries through the Associations which have been formally established according to the guidelines of the Consiglio. Francesca stated during a session on Organizational Issues that “we cannot overstate enough the greatest importance of unity.”

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a work of the Holy Spirit around the world, touching adults and children alike and offering them in their own language a rich engagement with God, always an invitation to a deeper relationship with God as shown through Jesus and animated by the Holy Spirit. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd can be found in at least 65 countries around the world.

Sofia with children

Sofia Cavalletti told that first group of Consiglio representatives what it was that brought everyone together:

“We all have a common spring at which we drink: the mystery of God filtered through the child.The face of God has many aspects, and what is shown to us through the child, is different from what is familiar to us as adults. We enter into a spontaneous relationship with God because it is He who first ‘called us by name.’ “

It is in this reality that the work of the Consiglio is to be expressed above all else. Through the Consiglio, everyone’s contributions are held in common. Our association has always been closely connected to the Consiglio as we receive inspiration and direction as well as share this work with our members and others around the world.

The Consiglio gathers every three years. Members of the Executive Committee for the Consiglio include Francesca Cocchini (Italy), Nora Bonilla (Colombia), Tere Loyo (Mexico), and Rebekah Rojcewicz (USA). Additionally, there are two representatives from each country where an association of catechists has been established.

Sofia

Sofia Cavalletti, from the first meeting of the Consiglio, has always echoed the same message to participants at these meetings which was to be shared with catechists in each country and that is:

“Whatever we do, nothing, neither the Mystery of God, nor the children, nor anything we do to further the work – belongs to us.

It is all gift and therefore the response should always be as one responds to any gift – it is to be welcomed in joy and gratitude and to be shared so that it may not lose its dynamism. This is a gift that we have not earned but one that has been given freely out of love. Joy springs from an awareness of the greatness of the gift and the unfathomable goodness of the Gift giver.”

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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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