Level I (3K – 4K preschoolers)
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious forma!on of children. It is
rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the Church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather in an “atrium,” a room prepared for them, which contains simple yet beautiful materials that they work with to draw closer to Christ in prayer. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd originated in Rome 60 years ago and has been taught in the United States for nearly 50 years.
What do children learn?
Children spend time enjoying and nurturing a relationship with the Good Shepherd. The children are deeply affected by the boundless love of the Shepherd for His sheep as described in the Scriptures. They learn that He knows His sheep, calls them by name, searches for lost sheep, and celebrates the found sheep. Materials and presentations on the life of Christ and His teachings help to make the great mystery of who God is more understandable for the child. Through geography, the words of the prophets, and infancy narratives, Jesus is established as a real person. The Paschal narratives are treated similarly, using model cities of Jerusalem, empty tombs, and cenacles for the Last Supper. Selected parables further the child’s wonder and curiosity about the great mystery of the Kingdom of God. Children become familiar with the articles of the Eucharist and Baptism by arranging them in their own atrium on miniature altars and fonts. The children also become acquainted with the gestures of our liturgy and their meaning of the Paschal Mystery: Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. A prayer corner located in each atrium reflects the liturgical time of year by means of appropriate colors, prayer, songs, artwork, and readings.
Working with Materials
If an adult hears a beautiful passage from the Bible, the adult might take a Bible, find the passage, and read it slowly again and again. He or she may think deeply about the words and perhaps speak to God in a thankful or hopeful prayer. A little child, too young to read, needs another way. In an “atrium,” the child can ponder a Biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy by taking the material for that text and working with it – placing wood figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting figurine apostles around a Last Supper table, or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used for the Eucharist.
Offering Two Sessions
- Sundays 8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. (children will be brought into Mass after atrium session)
- Mondays 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. (same starting time as K-5 Religious Education classes)
Cost: $60 for the full year – financial assistance is available for those in need!
Schedule: Follows the Religious Education calendar