Jesus loves the little children, and not just because the song tells us so! He even tells us in Mt. 18:3, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The humility and simplicity of a child’s faith is one to be respected and even imitated according to Christ Himself. He beckons the children to Himself, just as they are, and He encourages all of us to follow their lead.
In an effort to bring our children to Jesus accordingly, we established the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program here at St. Jude in September of 2023. This Montessori-based religious education program allows the children to discover Christ in an atmosphere where they can touch and work with things, move about the room, and ask questions — where they can be kids.
“I cannot speak enough good things about this program,” says Caryn Hudspeth, a level-one catechist who currently serves to facilitate the program between our catechists and the parish. “It enables young children to joyfully fall more deeply in love with God through contemplation of Scripture and the liturgy.”
In fact, Caryn says she has witnessed this firsthand in the lives of her own children who have participated in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
“Not only were they engaged in class, but they came home and practiced and showed my husband and me what they learned,” Caryn says. “They are also more engaged in Mass.”
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program takes place in an atrium — a special space set apart for the children to learn and to pray. There, the children are invited to sit and listen as a catechist reads the Scripture and then presents a lesson based on the week’s passage. Then, the children are encouraged to roam about the room finding time to discover their faith. There are biblical figurines for them to work with, as well as miniature liturgical vessels — like the ciborium and the chalice — along with little altar cloths and more. The children spend time working with the age-appropriate materials and using their wonder and awe to grasp a deeper understanding and a greater reverence for the faith, all under the loving guidance of our trained catechists.
“The children learn the vocabulary of the Church,” Caryn says. “They learn to pray and to listen to God. They work at their own pace with hands-on materials that include the Holy Bible, the liturgy, and the sacraments. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd engages the entire child — body, mind, and spirit.”
Currently at St. Jude, we offer a level-one program. It is open to 3 to 6-year-olds, and we encourage you to consider registering your children. Classes are held in our atrium in the Guerin Room on Sundays from 8 to 10 a.m., following the school calendar.
“Through the child’s work in the atrium, he or she will deepen their understanding of Scripture and liturgy and be led to a fuller participation in the life of the Church, as well as to a hope born of a sure knowledge of God’s plan and their place in His plan,” Caryn says.
Consider getting involved. There are plans to begin a level-two program in the fall — this level is open to children ages 6 to 9. Keep an eye out for more details as the fall season gets closer.
To register your child, or to serve as a volunteer, contact Caryn Hudspeth in the parish office at 317-786-4371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.