It’s tempting to come up with our own ideas of how children can learn about the Catholic faith and fashion lessons based on that. But here at St. Rita’s Catholic Church, we have a program that brings clear focus to our children’s faith formation. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is rooted in the Montessori approach, allowing children to choose what they want to learn about, in a more hands-on way of learning. The Atrium is the space students learn, helping them enter into a “quiet and meditative environment.” The Atrium is filled with a rich variety of beautifully hand-crafted materials related to Christ’s life.
According to the program website, CGS “was born from the joy of the children in their encounter with God and the announcement of God’s love experienced through Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen.”
Ticia Gallo helped launch CGS here at the parish in September 2022 and has so far enjoyed the program. In particular, she loves the interactive format of CGS — all of the teaching materials give the students the essentials. For example, children can interact with examples of the sacred vessels used for the Consecration and see the Mass truly come alive.
”CGS is a particular approach to the religious formation of the child focusing on the development of a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd,” Ticia says.
With Level I currently on offer, 3 to 6-year-olds can participate in CGS. More levels for older children may be added in the future. Sessions are currently offered Sunday mornings, Wednesday afternoons, and Friday mornings.
Ticia can’t say enough good about CGS and the positive effects it has on the faith lives of children.
“We give them the essential message, nothing more and nothing less — like feeding with a dropper, which allows very young children to absorb it and respond with prayer,” she says. “This essentially facilitates focus and combats distraction.”
In turn, Ticia and the other catechists have found their faith lives growing through this program.
“CGS has deepened my faith and has given me a more profound understanding of the religious formation of young children,” she says.
Ticia especially wants to thank the catechists for their work with CGS — Sherry Farmer, Melinda Lindgren, and Mary Frances Karson.
Registration for CGS will open later this summer.
Catechists are needed to teach CGS — it takes extensive training to be a catechist. For more information, contact Ticia Gallo at email@example.com.