Christian Principles

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious and spiritual formation of children. It is rooted in the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather with a Catechist who presents lessons using simple yet beautiful materials. 

"Now religion itself is not something that has to be given the child; it is not something that has to be taught…. We know… that a sense of God exists in the heart of the child, it is not conscious but it is there…. It is something that has to grow, and it grows slowly, the important thing is not to interfere, for the plant will not flower if the buds are broken by clumsy, impatient handling… we must have patience while it grows in its own time and its own way."
-Maria Montessori

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children that is based on the conviction that God and the Child are in relationship.  Recognizing that the child’s home is essentially the first “church” the child knows, it is our goal to make sure that the conditions that surround your child should fulfill and develop the work begun in the home.  Parents are the first models of the child’s spiritual formation, and we strive to provide an environment which allows the child to explore his/her relationship with God with respect to what is expressed and practiced in the family. We welcome families with diverse faith backgrounds and seek to model acceptance and appreciation for the many ways in which we practice faith.

Developed by Sofia Cavalletti, an Italian Hebrew scripture scholar, and building on the work and methods of Maria Montessori, the Catechesis seeks to give children the guidance and vocabulary which enable them to become aware of their relationship with God and give expression to it. The children are provided lessons by a trained Catechist, and the materials formulated for the natural exploration of the child’s faith. The curriculum and materials used in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd are specially designed, and include a prayer table for gathering, as well as materials to deepen their familiarity with the key concepts of their faith. After being presented with new material in a small group, children are free to choose work which particularly speaks to them to foster the growth of their own relationships with God. The materials and movement are an aid to their reflections on scripture and liturgy and their rich relationship with God.
 
The Catechist
Through the example of the Catechist the, “child learns to pray, to express in his own way his first efforts to lift his mind and heart to God.” The role of the adult in the atrium is secondary. It is the child’s own inner guide which directs the mind and heart. The importance of the catechist is to place materials within reach that fill a particular longing at each stage in a child’s spiritual life.

In the Catechesis we present age-appropriate themes from the Bible and our liturgy with manipulative materials the children use to internalize and ponder the great mysteries of faith.