Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a religious formation experience, based on the educational method of Dr. Maria Montessori, which begins at the age of three. Adult catechists trained in this method offer children a sacred space for work, study, and prayer called an atrium, with plenty of “hands-on” catechetical materials available. Together in this setting, children and their catechists hear, ponder, and celebrate the most essential mysteries of the Catholic faith as revealed in Scripture and the Liturgy. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has been adapted in many settings to serve children of various Christian denominations.
Originally developed in Rome beginning in 1954 by Dr. Sofia Cavalletti (a Hebrew Scripture scholar) and Gianna Gobbi (an assistant to and student of Dr. Maria Montessori), the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd continues to spread worldwide. It has reached a variety of cultures and socioeconomic settings, and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was adopted in 2008 by the Missionaries of Charity (the order of nuns founded by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata) as their primary means of catechesis with the children they serve around the world. In October 2014, over 600 catechists from 22 countries gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Following the cycle of the Church’s liturgical calendar, the children in an atrium, guided by their catechist, explore Christocentric themes, as related to Advent, the Incarnation, the Kingdom of God, the Good Shepherd, and the Paschal Mystery which is found at the heart of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Particular attention is given to the sacraments as events in which we encounter Christ and the mysteries of our faith. The children are invited to independent work with the catechetical materials, in which the Holy Spirit can guide them to a deeper relationship with God.
You can read more about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at www.cgsusa.org.