Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The philosophy of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program is that even very young children have a religious life, that God is present to them in their deepest being, and they are capable of developing both a conscious and intimate relationship with God. We provide guidance and vocabulary to enable them to become aware of their relationship with God and to express it. Classes are structured to offer a time of prayer and song, a time for the “presentation” and a time for individual work by the child. The work of the child is their prayer and is the most important part of the class.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is the approach to the Christian formation of children ages 3-9 that St. Philip’s employs on Sunday mornings. This program is used worldwide and based on the work of Dr. Sofia Cavalletti, a Hebrew scholar, and her co-worker, Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator. For more information about CGS, check out its USA website at https:// www.cgsusa.org/
Children are grouped by age or grade level and attend class in specially prepared rooms called “atria”. An atrium contains attractively displayed handmade materials that are designed to invite children to deepen their relationship with God at their own pace. The program is biblically based and follows the rhythms of the church year. Based on the conviction that God and the child are in a relationship, the program focuses on the specific needs of the child.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is divided into three levels that correspond to the Montessori planes of development. Children from ages three to six are in Level I. Level II covers grades one through three, and fourth, fifth, and sixth graders are in Level III. As the child matures, the essentials of our religious faith are presented in increasing detail and sophistication. At each level, presentations focus on the life and teachings of Jesus and the liturgy of the church.
Level I (Children ages 3 to 6 years)
The theme for this level is the Good Shepherd who loves his sheep and gives everything for them. The child comes to discover who the Shepherd is and who the sheep are. The enjoyment of the gift of God’s own self to the child is the foundation of further religious insight and moral development. This level could be characterized as a “time of joy and wonder” in the lives of the children. Presentations offered over this three-year period can be divided into several large groupings. A detailed list of presentations can be found here.