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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to religious formation of children 3 to 12 years of age. It was founded in Rome with a children's center or "atrium" and inspired by Montessori principles of education.
It is based on the conviction that God and the child are in relationship. The child has a deep need to experience and a special capacity to enjoy the presence of God. The task of the adult is to help the child live fully the encounter with God. This experience becomes formative and leads to joy.
The curriculum is constructed so that it accommodates and nurtures the faith, and the moral and psychological growth of the child. The themes are offered in such a way as to develop the precious religious potential present in every child: the capacity to love and be loved.
For Schedule of 2013-2014 Sessions go to Newsletter for Faith Formation.
Toddler Program - Ages 6 months to 2 1/2 years
This program offers an opportunity to introduce younger children to the atrium.
The class will meet upstairs in the Nursery space. Appropriate materials will be moved to the space for use with toddlers and the environment will be totally safe for toddlers. In the infant Montessori community, children who are walking come on their own. Children who are not walking come with one of their parents.
Preschool - (Level I) Ages 3, 4 and 5
The parable of the Good Shepherd is the theme for the youngest children. This is appropriate because they are particularly capable of receiving and enjoying the most essential element of our faith - the announcement of God's love and care in the person of the Good Shepherd. Materials in this level present the life of Christ, geography materials, selected parables, and liturgical work that includes a small altar on which the children arrange candles, chalice and paten, linen and the cross in order to become familiar with the articles of the Eucharist. A prayer corner reflects the liturgical cycle where children have opportunities to celebrate with appropriate colors, songs and prayers.
Elementary - (Level II) Grades 1,2 and 3
The elementary age child is captured by the image of the True Vine. "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing." This proclamation responds to the child's deep need to form relationships with God, family and friends and the larger community. A child of this age is aware of time and is able to explore the past and future.
Timelines are used to express God's love and care for God's world from creation to the end of time. Children are given opportunities to explore their place in God's creation and to see that they are an important part of God's plan.
Moral parables and maxims give children guidelines for behavior as they see that God's love is constant and God's forgiveness is ever present.
Elementary children explore the parts of the Eucharist and are able to see them as one unity.
Elementary - (Level III) Grades 4, 5 and 6
Older children focus on the plan of God in history, a communion which links all people together and in which the child has a place. The emphasis is on our response to this unfolding generosity of God and the responsibilities that come with receiving God's gifts. Old Testament themes are presented and seen as part of God's plan.
The sacraments are explored and the prayers of the Eucharist are carefully read and meditated on.
Further study of moral parables and maxims is done.
Children are given opportunities to do research on subjects that interest them.