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What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the spiritual formation of children ages three to 12 that is rooted in the Bible and the Liturgy and uses Montessori’s educational approach to faith formation.
This approach is based on the belief that God and the child are already in relationship. Our work as adults is to provide a place for the child and God to come together and grow. In the Foreword to The Religious Potential of the Child, Rebekah Rojcewicz says, “The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has been described as the meeting of two mysteries: the mystery of God and the mystery of the child. When we use such a word as ‘mystery’ it indicates our attitude of respect and wonder, our recognition that we are standing before something which is at once both knowable and yet beyond our complete comprehension. If we see young children as mystery in the same way we see God as mystery, then we will want to know more about them. We will want to go on learning about them, and, yes, in addition to responding to Jesus’ exhortation to become like them, some of us will feel called to serve them.”
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is offered to all children ages three to 12.
Level 1: Ages three (must be potty trained) through K
Level 2: Grades 1st-3rd
Level 3: Grades 4th-6th
Children may be enrolled at the 9:30am hour or the 11am hour or both hours. All children must be registered to attend. To register, simply use the link at the top of this page, “Registration for Catechesis.”
The atrium is a specially prepared room just for the children where they can come to know Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The room is prepared with special materials made by our own catechists. The children work with the materials as a way to meditate on the lesson presented. The materials cover Biblical stories as well as liturgical moments. For example, there are maps of Israel, including a relief map of the city of Jerusalem, to help the children learn about Jesus’ life. There is a baptismal font, a candle, shell, and a white garment to help the children learn about the Sacrament of Baptism. These are just a few examples of what is housed in the atrium.
The Catechist is the person who facilitates the relationship of the child with God. We are not “teachers;” we are co-learners with the child as we ponder the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to teach. The catechist asks “wondering” questions, so that the child and the adult ponder the Scriptures together.
A Day in the Atrium
The children come in and work on their own until they are invited to a presentation. The most important time for the child is the time after the presentation. This is their time to ponder what they have heard proclaimed. They may draw, trace, or work with the materials. We end our time with worship. At Level One, the catechist conducts a very simple time of prayer and singing. At the upper levels, the children conduct their own services with Scripture readings, songs, and prayer.
All parents of children in the atrium are asked to: 1) bring their children on a consistent basis, preferably every Sunday; 2) Help in the atrium either with materials making/restoring or assisting. If a parent is assisting, there will be training given before the school year starts; 3) If called to take the training to become a Catechist, the training is given right here at Mt. Bethel by Betsy Brown.
You do not have to be a parent to help in the atrium or to take the training. We encourage anyone in our congregation who would like to draw closer to God to help or train. You will be amazed!
For more information, please contact Betsy Brown via email or at 770.971.5878 (office) or 678.548.2917 (cell).