Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a religious education program, which is inspired by the Montessori education method. Through CGS, children are encouraged to use physical materials to help them contemplate different elements of the Holy Mass and the New Testament. It provides them with an opportunity to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, in addition to learning about Him and His Church.
The national CGS program offers three different levels of training for catechists. Clare Smith is the current CGS catechist. She is qualified to teach Level I for children ages 3 to 6.
“I fell in love with CGS when I realized that it provides the opportunity for Christ to reveal Himself to the child by offering young children small sections of primary sources, rather than wordy explanations and preschool metaphors,” Clare says.
Children enrolled in the program come from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. CGS takes place in the education building at St. Jude Thaddeus in a special room called the atrium. By using the materials, direction, and environment provided by the catechist, children are encouraged to pray about different themes. These themes include Christ the Light; the Kingdom of God; the gestures and articles of the Mass; the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ; the seasons of the liturgical year; and Christ the Good Shepherd.
“This program seeks to allow the child to be with Jesus, rather than simply learning about Him,” Clare says. “While there are learning objectives, the focus is on prayer and relationship with Christ. Ideally, the child will work independently with materials that engage the mind in meditation on Christ in His Life, His Word, and His Mass.”
In addition to enhancing the child’s own relationship with Christ, CGS encourages active participation in the sacraments. This helps children come to realize that the parish is not simply a place, but a community.
“Parishioners are also invited to observe the work of the children in the atrium, to attend atrium tours, to take informational pamphlets from the atrium, to help create and maintain supplies used in the atrium, and to consider attending a CGS training to become a catechist or assistant in the program,” Clare says.
Currently, the atrium is full, with ten children participating in the program. An additional meeting time on Sunday morning can be made available if there is sufficient interest. There is no charge for children to participate in CGS.
Families wishing to enroll their children in the program can email Deacon Dave Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions, contact Clare Smith at 414-336-9107
or email@example.com. All are welcome!