Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS)? CGS is an approach to faith formation rooted in Scripture and Liturgy, and based upon the educational principles of Maria Montessori and Sofia Cavalletti. CGS is aimed at children ages 3 to 12. Level 1 is ages 3-6; Level 2 is ages 6-9; Level 3 is ages 9-12.

What is an atrium? An atrium is a specifically designed environment which allows the child the space to draw closer to God. It is a place where the child can listen to the proclamations of the Word of God; meditate on the Word of God and begin to live it according to the child’s own rhythm. It is a place for the announcement of the Word of God, a place for celebration and also a place for work. It is an environment in which work becomes meditation and prayer. The child’s expression of the religious life is manifested through prayer responses whether silent or aloud, in contemplation, and through artwork.

What kind of training is required to offer CGS in the parish? There is approximately 90 hours (two weeks) of formation required to complete Level 1 training (the hours are slightly higher for Levels 2 and 3). In our diocese, we have broken up this training into two week-long sessions over the course of two summers. Formation in CGS includes giving adults all presentations as they are given to the children and discussing scriptural, theological, liturgical, and pedagogical background for these presentations. Ample time is also given to integrating a solid understanding of Montessori’s discoveries about the development of the human person and principles of education as they apply to CGS. Finally, time during formation is given for prayer, atrium practicum, observation, material making, and album page discussion and writing.

What is the cost of training? The cost of registration, tuition and textbooks for Level 1 training is approximately $600. Thus far, this cost has been met through the Catholic Education Trust Fund (CETF).

How many parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville have already begun CGS? Thus far, there are 12 parishes/schools which have begun training or have implemented CGS. These parish/schools include: St. Mary Church and School (Oak Ridge), St. Dominic Church, St. Mary Church (Athens), Holy Ghost Church, Notre Dame Church, Our Lady of Fatima Church, St. Jude Church and School (Chattanooga), St. Alphonsus Church, St. Stephen Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Michael the Archangel Mission, and St. Mary Church and School (Johnson City).

Where can I learn more about CGS? Go to http://www.cgsusa.org/. Articles on CGS can be found here and here. The characteristics of CGS can be found here. You may also contact Fr. Richard Armstrong (rarmstrong@dioknox.org) at the Chancery.

If I am interested in beginning CGS in the parish, what is my next step? Identify at least two individuals in your parish who would be interested in and are able to make a commitment to the training and implementation of CGS in the parish. Next, fill out the Registration Form.