- Slides: 39
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd “Help me discover God by myself. ”
We believe: l l God and the child have a unique relationship with one another, already in place. The growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child. They only need the guidance and vocabulary to enable them to become aware of their relationship with God and give expression to it.
We Believe: l Children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship. l The child’s spiritual growth is best served through tangible but indirect means.
History l The idea for the process of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd came about as a result of a long period of observation of children. It evolved by accident, simply, without planning, the way God often comes into our lives. In 1954, Sofia Cavalletti, a Hebrew and Scripture scholar was asked to give religious education to a young child. Sofia at first refused, believing she knew nothing about children, but eventually she consented.
History l What Sofia saw in that first child and many others since, was a way of being in the presence of God, unique to children. From that time to the present, Sofia reminds adults to look to the child to see the indicator of a deeply religious life – joy – and then to ask themselves “What face of God does the child need to see? ” Sofia says, “The child will be our teacher if we know how to observe them. ”
How the Catechesis Works l Catechesis of the Good Shepherd addresses the religious formation of children in a specially prepared environment called an “atrium” (place of preparation). The children gather in the atrium and work with a variety of materials readied for their use. Catechesis is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the church and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Maria had a great influence in its creation. The motto of this process is; “Help me discover God by myself. ”
How the Catechesis Works l The program does not emphasize cognitive learning and memorization; rather it taps into the child's already innate spirituality, and builds on an intuitive process whereby the child is introduced to Christ as the Good Shepherd
How the Catechesis Works l Two elements are integral to the work with the children from age three through age twelve: the Holy Bible and the sacraments, with particular emphasis on the Liturgy
The Atrium l In the atrium that child can ponder the biblical passages or liturgical prayers presented to them by working with the materials provided for that text
The Atrium l placing wooden figures of sheep and shepherd in the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd,
The Atrium l setting figures, representing the apostles, around a Last Supper table,
The Atrium l Or, exploring The City of Jerusalem, in miniature
The Atrium l or preparing a small altar with tiny replicas of the same articles we use at Eucharist.
The Atrium l Older children can chose from examining the Moral Maxims of Jesus,
The Atrium l Examining some of the parables
The Atrium l exploring, discovering and labeling a time-line showing the history of the Kingdom of God,
The Atrium l Or synthesizing the Holy Eucharist with a chart and materials.
Level I l Each of the three levels, ages 3 -6, 6 -9, and 9 -12, offers age-appropriate themes for children taken from scripture and our liturgy. Each level builds on the previous one.
Level I l The heart of catechesis for the child under six revolves around the Parable of the Good Shepherd, revealing the absolute and unconditional love of God. Here the children meet God where they are and are able to express their innate love for God.
Level I l Two aspects of doctrinal content drive this teaching: the covenantal relationship between God and humans, and the protective love of the Good Shepherd for each sheep, who is called by name.
Level I l The parables of the Kingdom of God are also presented, as well as prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the Infancy Narratives— stories surrounding the birth of Jesus and his early years.
Level I l Through biblical geography the children are shown that Jesus lived in a specific place and at a specific time on this earth: the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.
Level I l Important to the spiritual development of the young child is the accumulation of a vocabulary for prayer. This vocabulary grows through use of words drawn from the Bible, such as amen, alleluia, our Father.
Level I l Aspects of the sacraments introduced to the 3– 6 -yearold children include materials pertaining to Holy Eucharist and Holy Baptism. Nomenclature is especially important: naming the articles of the altar and the font and knowing their significance
Level I l In the presentation "The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd, " the Bible and liturgy come together. The sheep are gathered around the altar, and the Good Shepherd is present in the bread and the wine.
Level II l The child in the second atrium is captured by the image of the True Vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches. ”
Level II l Working with a liturgical calendar puzzle, to determine the seasons and colors, and then calculating the dates with tools in Level II
Level II l A more in depth look at the articles and vestments of the altar
Level II l A look at some of the more complex parables, such as the Good Samaritan and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Level II l Or, exploring God’s gifts to his people using a Salvation History timeline
Level III l For the children at the third level, the focus shifts to a more detailed presentation of the history of salvation and God’s plan for community-a plan to link all people together. The emphasis at that point is on the child’s own responses to the gifts of God and the responsibilities that come with receiving those gifts.
Level III l The “Plan of God” explores a smaller slice of salvation history, in the rise and fall of the cultures of the ancient near east
Level III l The exploration of the Holy Eucharist is taken a step further, by making a complicated color coded chart, with more in depth analysis of the Eucharist
Level III l A new work this year is the “Virtues, ” first exploring what they are, then using color coded arrows to flag evidence of them in scripture
Level III l In Level III, we also do a deeper exploration of the old testament, including history of worship, and typology of events that we encounter in Liturgy, such as The Fall, Abraham, and Moses
Questions l “What is the kingdom of God and my place in it? ” is a question which begins to lay the foundation for their relationship with and commitment to God.
Catechist l The catechist’s role is to foster an interpersonal relationship between God and the child by making presentations that “call forth” the child’s response rather than simply “pour in” information.
Catechist l The adult is a co-wanderer with the child. The catechist and the child work together addressing questions generated from exploring Scriptures with one another.
l Through ongoing work with all these materials, it is our hope and prayer that the truths of the Christian faith are embedded deep in the hearts and minds of our young children.