“Help me come closer to God by myself.”
What is it? The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a particular approach to religious formation with children that helps children enter into relationship with God. It’s based on the belief that God and the child are already in a relationship. It is grounded solidly in Sacred Scripture and in the Liturgy of the Church, then framed by the educational principles of Maria Montessori in a hands-on, sensorially rich environment.
How does it work? Each Level responds to the developmental characteristics and needs of the child. The 3-6-year-old Level 1 child loves to explore the world through their senses and needs movement. They have a need for order and love to learn the names of things. They are full of wonder and absorb everything in the environment. The 6-9-year-old Level 2 child has an increased awareness of time and history and an increased curiosity regarding his or her role in history. This child is also forming a moral capacity, a sense of right and wrong.
The CGS environment, the Atrium, is a specially prepared place that helps the child develop a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to fall in love with God. It is a beautiful, peaceful, and prayerful space that meets the child’s needs in a variety of ways.
In Level 1, the predictable environment and the routine of each work feed the child’s desire for order and independence. Practical Life exercises, such as pouring beans and handwashing, allow the child to practice controlled movement while quieting the body for subsequent prayer.
The Level 2 works introduce the child to the huge expanse of salvation history, and the place of God and the child in that history. The works help the child reflect on the gift of God’s covenant relationship with us and our response to that gift of relationship.
During our weekly 75-minute sessions, children gather in the Atrium to use simple yet beautiful materials to encounter and contemplate the most essential proclamations of the Christian faith. For the child, the Atrium is a place of preparation for participation in the larger worshipping community. Rather than being a classroom for instruction, it is a place to live out one’s religious life, a place of community and worship.
You can learn more, go to the United States Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd or watch this 7-minute CGS video on YouTube.
Note: Children enrolling in CGS Level 1 must be 3 by August 1st and be potty-trained and able to use the toilet independently.
If you have questions or would like to visit the CGS Atrium, please contact Rachael Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org