Between Christ and the children there exists a profound affinity. -Sofia Cavalletti
What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a catechetical program for children ages 3-12. It is a reflective-based program of religious formation that helps a child to further develop his/her relationship with God in a developmentally appropriate way. It is rooted in Sacred Scripture, the Liturgy, and the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori.
The Catechesis began in 1954 in Rome, Italy. Sofia Cavalletti, a Scripture scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, a Montessorian, collaborated and began to work with children. Over the next 60 years, they developed materials and curriculum that spoke to the child’s religious potential and offered an opportunity for prayer, meditation, and religious development.
The Catechesis is an ongoing work that strives to reveal the religious potential of the child and respond to the spiritual needs and qualities of the child. It seeks to help children grow and mature in their faith and their relationship with Christ. The Catechesis is offered in over 37 countries throughout the world.
GSCM is the only school in the Archdiocese and one of the few across the country that fully implement Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for ages 3-12 within the Montessori educational environment.
The Atrium: A prepared environment
The atrium is a specially designed learning environment where children and adults come together to pray, work, and contemplate the mystery of God and the presence of God in our lives. The atrium is designed to meet the developmental needs of the children and provide beautiful space to share in the process of discovering the Word of God together.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd uses hands-on materials that present central themes to the child. These materials draw the children into the mystery and make it possible for them to have a dialogue with the “Inner Teacher,” The Holy Spirit. The materials are hand-made by the catechists and parent volunteers. They are simple, yet beautiful, and are set-up in an organized curriculum. The materials are divided into the following major categories:
The Life of Christ
Geography, Infancy Narratives, Paschal Narratives
The Liturgy and the Liturgical Year
The Parables of the Kingdom
The Moral Parables
Maxims (teachings of Jesus)
The Good Shepherd Parable
Prayer and Scripture
Kingdom of God and Creation
Typology (Scripture Study for older students)
Formation in Faith
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd speaks to the child’s growing relationship with Christ as well as their changing developmental needs. The youngest children (ages 3-6) are particularly drawn to the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd. They respond to the intimate love and care of the Good Shepherd who “calls his sheep by name” and who died and rose again out of love. The young child is, by nature, sensorial and connects well to learning about the liturgy through gestures and arranging realistic articles that are used at Mass. It helps the young child enter into the liturgy and
understand Eucharist as a Sacrament of Gift. A sense of wonder and awe helps the young child to unlock the mystery of God’s Kingdom through parables.
The older children (ages 6-12), with their increased sense of social connections, are particularly drawn to the image of Jesus as True Vine. They yearn to know how to live out their relationships with each other as part of a community. Moral parables and an investigation into Maxims help the children in their understanding of community and individual responsibility. Their imagination and growing sense of time and history allow the older child to focus on the History of Salvation and how God has worked in and through Creation from the beginning of time and bestowed many wonderful gifts culminating in the gift of Jesus, a gift that will be for all time and all people.
The most important thing that happens in the atrium (or in our lives, for that matter) is that, together with children, we grow in our knowledge of Jesus, the Christ, the Good Shepherd, and in his love for us, and that we grow always more capable of responding to that love.
Natalie Gunawan – Catechist
Natalie was born in Germany and grew up in Indonesia. She moved to the US at 16 and graduated from high school in Mobile, AL. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and worked for P&G Japan upon graduation. During her overseas assignment in China, she encountered Montessori at her daughter’s pre-school and was intrigued by the philosophy. She decided to leave P&G to pursue a career in education. She received her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Xavier University, and she has taught at Xavier Lab School and Pleasant Ridge Montessori. Natalie has completed Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level I and II training. She works in both the Level II and Level III atriums at GSCM. Natalie enjoys playing tennis, travelling, cooking, gardening and volunteering for non-profit organizations.