What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was founded by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi in 1954 in Rome, Italy and is an approach to religious formation ages 3-12. It is a program inspired by Montessori Principles of Education, the doctrine of the Church, Liturgy and Sacred Scripture. The Catechesis is based on the conviction that God and the child are already in relationship. The child has a deep need to experience and a special capacity to enjoy the presence of God. The task of the adult is to help the child live fully the encounter with God. When helped to do so, this experience becomes formative in the child’s whole person and generates great joy. The atrium is the environment where this formation takes place. It is one of the elements that help the relationship between God and the child to flourish.
The Catechesis proclaims the message of Jesus to children by presenting His parables in a Montessori learning environment. Level I children are attracted to the Good Shepherd’s abiding love for His sheep. They develop a special love for Jesus, the Good Shepherd, even before they realize that they are the sheep. The children hear the Bible story in the words of the catechist, using actual scripture verses, and discuss and reflect on what they heard. Materials that accompany the teachings are available for the children to re-enact the story.
Level II builds on the covenental love between God and His children, but adds the element of the merciful, forgiving love of Jesus and calls for a response from the children. Older children receive meditations to enhance their preparation for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
Level III focuses on the plan of God to join all people together. The child focuses on God’s generosity and the responsibilities that accompany His gifts. They are posed the question, “What is my place in the Kingdom of God?”