“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” Psalm 140 13-14
Maria Montessori began her journey with children of “different ability” so it is fitting that our work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which follows her educational model, would be inclusive of children of all abilities as well. If we truly believe, as our work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd tells us, that we are “led by the child” then we will meet each child in the atrium wherever they are on their faith journey. Once a child with disabilities is accepted into an atrium, many practical tasks remain such as assessing the child’s abilities, identifying a catechist, and determining which materials are appropriate.
Trinka Hamel joins The Good Shepherd and the Child Podcast today to share her experience with experimental work with children and young people of different abilities using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model. She has years of experience both professionally and in the atrium to share with us. Trinka considers the young children she came to know in her first years as a special education specialist in Chicago to be among her greatest mentors and teachers. Like all children, they were drawn to beauty, joy, relationship and kindness. When Trinka was introduced to CGS in 2004 it was like coming home to a place she’d never been. She has been a catechist since 2008, helped to develop all levels of atria at a local parish in Tacoma, WA, and recently became a Level I formation leader. Trinka completed a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies with an emphasis on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at Aquinas Institute of Theology in 2017, and continues to support the CGS communities in her region as a member of the Sheepfold Consortium for CGS sustainability in the Pacific Northwest.
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Resources for further growth:
For a deeper dive into the theology of disability, here’s an overview from Deborah Creamer, “Theological Accessibility: The Contribution of Disability.”