Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The CGS Method

“We believe that God and the child have a unique relationship with one another, particularly before the age of six; that growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God; that children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship; and that the child’s spiritual growth is best served through tangible but indirect means.”  www.cgsusa.org

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd takes place in a specially prepared room called an Atrium which dates back to early Christianity when churches were built with an entryway called an Atrium. In this space, catechumens received religious instruction before being initiated into the Church. It is in this quite, meditative environment that the children encounter the Holy Spirit as their primary teacher with the catechist acting as a guide to bring the two together.

Jesus said: “Let the Children Come to Me” Mt 19:14

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a hands-on religious program that beautifully embodies this invitation from Christ.  It provides an environment that encourages children to joyfully fall in love with God and His Church that He left to us as a means of being in relationship with Him.  The children work with materials that signify different aspects of Christ’s life and the life of the Church.  They listen to a brief presentation each session but the majority of the time is spent working with dioramas of events such as Christ as the Good Shepherd, the Annunciation to Mary, the Last Supper and the Mass, the parables, and the Empty Tomb.  

The children can also complete drawings or tracings of articles of the Mass and words of praise and prayer related to these themes.  The time spent working with materials gives them a chance to contemplate the associated aspects of our faith and develop a great love and appreciation for God and the Catholic Faith.  Instead of memorizing prayers to begin a good prayer life, they are given the opportunity to appreciate silence, which is essential to be able to hear God’s voice in our own lives.  

Spontaneous prayer can develop first, after which they are given words and prayers of praise and thanksgiving to help them express themselves to God.  The children come to realize that Jesus loves them and He is the Light in the darkness.  This course provides a solid foundation not just for learning about the Catholic Faith, but also most importantly for developing a relationship with God from which numerous blessings will flow.

This method began its development over 60yrs ago in Rome by two Roman Catholic followers of Dr. Maria Montessori, Hebrew Scripture scholar Dr. Sofia Cavalletti and Montessori educator Gianna Gobbi and continues today in over 37 countries.

CGS has three levels

Level I:  children ages 3 (we at St. Benedict start at age 4) to 6 hear about the Good Shepherd’s deep love for His sheep, even the ones who are lost, from the Bible. They come to realize that the sheep are His people and includes themselves who Jesus would lay down his life for and wants to give life in abundance.  A painted wooden Good Shepherd, sheepfold and pasture accompany the scripture and are available for the children to re-enact the story.  Other topics include: gestures of the Mass, the land of Israel, infancy narratives, resurrection, Baptism, liturgical colors, the altar and accompanying articles, city of Jerusalem, Last Supper, Kingdom parables.

Level II:  The 6-9 years age child is presented the image of the True Vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” The children are becoming oriented more outward toward family, friends and community which is reflected in the more communal nature of this level.  Moral parables and Maxims help the children to realize that their behavior can have positive or negative impacts on others.  This level offers First Holy Communion preparation. Focusing on the relationship with Jesus and a deeper understanding of the Eucharist.  Other topics include: the history of creation, books of the Bible, flight into Egypt, insistent friend, found coin, geography and cities of Israel, the rosary, the Mass.

Level III:  ages 9 to 12yrs are immersed in history of salvation focusing on the plan of God involving all people together through God’s love. The children think about what their response should be to this generosity of these great gifts of God and recognition of the responsibilities that come with receiving them and participating as a collaborator with God in history. “What is the kingdom of God and my place in it?” is a big-picture question which lays the foundations for a committed to relationship with God.  Other topics include: Prophets of the Old Testament, the Gifts of God, the Miracles of Jesus, and expanded presentations on Liturgy and Scripture, Sacraments, structure of the Mass, typology.

All children have a deep need to experience God and a special capacity to enjoy His presence starting at a young age.   Because CGS engages children in such a profound way, it has become the best approach to children’s religious education in a growing number of diocese, parishes, and schools not only in the United States but around the world.

CGS registration form 2019-2020