Catechesis of the Good Shepard
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is the primary means of faith formation for children at St. Timothy’s. CGS is a Montessori method of faith formation grounded in the belief that children come to us already in relationship with God.
An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, all the more so when that relationship is between God and the child. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw nearer to God. The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to give selected presentations from scripture and liturgy that “call forth” the child’s response rather than “pours in” information. The catechist listens with the child and together they ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?” The adult reflects with the child on the questions generated by the presentations with the materials offered to the child to aid the child’s reflection. The atrium (or prepared environment) is one of the important elements that help the relationship between God and the child to flourish. After a theme has been presented, the child is free to choose an activity that will make possible the inner dialogue with the “Interior Teacher” (CGSUSA).
A three-year old is setting a model altar with an altar cloth, paten, chalice, candles, and crucifix. Later she carefully arranges a small bouquet of flowers. A four-year old sits in front of a model of a sheepfold, moving model sheep and shepherd while listening intently to an adult read the scripture account of the Good Shepherd. Two five-year olds sit across from each other; one sewing while the other traces images from a scripture account and makes a book.
Welcome to the Atrium, a prayer space designed to meet the spiritual and developmental needs of children using the Montessori method. By means of the beauty, silence, self-direction, and prayer fostered here, the mystery of the child encounters the mystery of God. Lovely hand-made materials to work and pray with, proclamations of God’s Word, meditation, and song, all appropriate to the child’s way of approaching God, invite him or her into a lifelong relationship with the Good Shepherd who gives “life to the full.”
In the Atrium the child explores prayer, scripture, liturgy, Holy Land geography, practical life, and art expression during a weekly 2-hour session. Could the Good Shepherd be calling your child to the Atrium?