Click here to download the 2019 CGS interest formWhat is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is founded on the observations of educator Maria Montessori, that God and the child share a special relationship before the age of six. This relationship is guided by the Holy Spirit, but it can be facilitated meaningfully by an adult.
For over 50 years, Sofia Cavalletti, a Catholic theologian and scholar of the Hebrew scriptures, and Gianna Gobbi, Montessori educator, made it their life’s work to understand and explore how best to facilitate this relationship. The CGS is the result of this labour of love.
Having recently celebrated its 63rd anniversary year, CGS has now spread beyond Italy to more than two dozen countries and several other Christian faiths around the world. The CGS arrived in Canada over 30 years ago, and is now offered in five provinces and one territory. With the blessing of our bishops, there are currently six Catholic Atria in operation in our Archdiocese, including The Mercy Gate Atrium here at St. Maurice Parish.
CGS is offered within a sacred space designed to meet the age-specific needs and capacities of children. This sacred space is called an ATRIUM. There, catechists seek to nurture the children’s covenant relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd through key proclamations, parables, symbols, and gestures of our faith. Specifically designed biblical and liturgical materials aid the children’s prayer, wonder, and contemplation of the great mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Together, children and catechists become a small Christian community connected to the life of the parish and the Church.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Maurice Parish
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd extends the parish invitation to grow in faith to preschool and school aged children, with potential to evangelize and draw families into parish life before children reach the age of direct preparation for the sacraments. In addition, the more intensive weekly spiritual formation of the Catechesis is sought out by families already seriously engaged in their faith and/or asking for support in shepherding their children in the life of faith.
Our St. Maurice Atrium was officially blessed as the Mercy Gate Atrium during the Octave of Easter 2009. At that time, a large room on the third floor of the administration building was converted into The Mercy Gate Atrium one day per week from October to June. In summer of 2014, after six years of a “set up & tear down” scenario, the large room was divided by a new wall constructed by volunteers; one of the resultant smaller rooms has become the designated home of the Mercy Gate Atrium. With a permanent home, the CGS now serves 70 children weekly: four sessions per week for Level 1 children (3-6 years old), two Level 2 sessions for 6-9 year olds, which incorporate sacramental preparation, and for the first time in 2018/19, one session for Level 3 children (9-12 years old). Now we are limited only by the small number of trained catechists in the parish. Currently, we have a team of nine.
Each October, small groups of children are integrated in stages into the life of the Atrium until the full group (maximum 8 children) can take part in all sessions together for 1.5 – 2 hours week. Because we live the liturgical year in the Atrium, our sessions end the week following Pentecost. Parents are involved through an information session, an Open House, regular home communications, sharing of resources, and parent observation days in the spring.
Many parents are evangelized by the effects they observe in their children who take part in the CGS, and thus it is most often parents and grandparents of children in the program who become the mainstay of the program. It is not uncommon that such parents seek out training and become catechists or volunteers in the Atrium themselves.
How Can I or My Child Get Involved?
If you feel called to serve the children in this ministry as a catechist, please contact Dale now! We can arrange for you to observe in the atrium, and provide information about training. A formation program for Level 1 catechists will be held in Ottawa this July 2019. This opportunity is only periodically available locally.
Interest forms to indicate your desire to enroll your child for the 2019/2020 year are now available. Registration forms are offered first to those on the interest list, beginning in September when the schedule for the new year is confirmed. If you have further questions or would like to come and see us,
please contact Dale.