Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a unique approach to the spiritual nurture of young children. Based on the work of Sofia Cavalleti and Maria Montessori, this offering recognizes that children are already in touch with God in their deepest being. It is not "Sunday school," in the traditional sense of the word, with adults imparting information to children. Rather, adults--specially trained for their work as "catechists"--accompany children on their spiritual journey. Adults who take part in Catechesis [kat-eh-KEE-sis] find that it enriches their own religious lives in a profound way. Families whose children spend Sunday mornings in the atrium (their sacred learning space) are similarly enriched. And the impact on a parish church using Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is profound.
What is our work?
If you are a child who participates in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, your work is intentional and self-driven. Using the Montessori Method combined with a contemplative classroom, called an atrium, you are encouraged to pursue your own endeavors of the spirit through thought- provoking presentations and repetitive, meditative activities.
Ultimately, your work is to wonder. To wonder about who Jesus is; to wonder about the world and where your relationship with God fits into that world. Your work is to begin aligning your inner clock with the liturgical calendar of the church year. Your work is to begin to understand that all of God’s children are called to live into a way of life that incorporates all people and is at its core innate to us all.
If you are an adult who serves as a catechist in one of our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria, your work is also intentional and child-driven. Your work is simultaneously to encourage the children’s wonder while allowing their discoveries to blossom largely unassisted. Each presentation or work that is given to a child becomes a tool for that child—tools that she can use to break open her relationship with Christ. As a result, the relationship between a child and a catechist is reciprocal. While a child is becoming familiar with a presentation he is uncovering spiritual truths which he shares with the catechists.
To learn more about what your child’s work can be, please contact Jan Locher, Lead Catechist, for more information. St. Stephen’s currently offers one Level I atrium serving children ages 3-6 and Level II atrium to serve children ages 6-9 on Sunday mornings.
Adults in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
This unique approach to the nurture of the spiritual lives of children requires a special commitment by the parish, but the fruits are profound for the children who participate, for their families, and for the adults who act as their guides (called "catechists"). Offering Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is transformative for the entire congregation.
Adults who participate in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd know firsthand that it is unlike traditional "Sunday school," and find it a deeply enriching spiritual experience. We hope that you will consider receiving training to be a catechist, regardless of whether you have young children.
Jan Locher, Lead Catechist // email