The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a scriptural and liturgical catechesis for children from the age of 3, which is rooted in the Montessori tradition. Developed in Rome in 1954 by scripture scholar Sofia Cavalletti and Montessorian Gianna Gobbi, this Montessori-based method of religious formation takes a child’s natural capacity for wonder as essential to the development of a religious sensibility. The Catechesis thus begins as an education to wonder, trusting that “when wonder becomes a fundamental attitude of our spirit it will confer a religious character to our whole life” (Cavalletti, RPC 139). It happens in an Atrium, a room prepared as a sacred space for children, where they can spend time pondering the most essential mysteries of the Catholic faith through work with handmade catechetical materials and by enjoying the many ways that God seeks to draw close to them.
Offered jointly by the Office of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Archdiocese of Toronto, and Continuing Education, University of St. Michael’s College, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Certificate program offers seminars in the theology and praxis of CGS while preparing participants to establish and run a CGS Atrium. The seminar is designed for those who are interested or already involved in caring for the spiritual lives of children in the home, parish, or school setting.
The certificate program includes seminars, presentations, and practice:
- Seminars on the religious needs and capacities of children offer an orientation to the biblical and liturgical themes, theological concepts, and pedagogy that are fundamental to this ministry.
- Presentations demonstrate the ways that each of the handmade catechetical materials assist children in prayer and meditation. These are delivered as they would be for children in the Atrium and are intended to facilitate the course participants’ own meditation on the biblical and liturgical themes that feature in our work with children.
- Practice includes an introduction to the Atrium environment, hands-on experience with catechetical materials and the creation of an individual handbook of presentations for children – a personal “album.”