Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Listening to God with Children

"I wonder how God's so big and can fit in our hearts?"

            - CFMS Student, Age 5

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Integrated into the CFMS experience is religious formation using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. CGS offers the heart of our Christian faith to children ages 3-12 using the Montessori method. Developed by Sofia Cavalletti in Rome since 1954, CGS uses materials to take a Biblical text or sign from the Catholic liturgy and make it available for ongoing independent reflection by the children. For example, a model of a shepherd and sheep in a sheepfold allow the children to consider and reconsider the parable of the Good Shepherd from the Gospel of John. It has been the joyful, peaceful response of the children themselves that has inspired and determined the content of this unique program.

The goal of CGS is to foster the child's own relationship with God using materials, song, art, and individual and communal prayer. The Atrium is the environment containing the beautiful materials that focus on the Bible and the Liturgy. Children at CFMS have access to an atrium throughout each week. While staff catechists present most of the lessons and materials in the atrium, all of the classroom teachers are familiar with the materials and can assist the children in their use. 

The materials of the 3-6 year old children in the atrium represent the heart of our Christian tradition: Jesus the the Good Shepherd, the Incarnation, the risen Christ, the Reign of God, Baptism and Eucharist. As the children reach the elementary classes they are able to grasp history, so we add time lines of Sacred History and studies from the Hebrew Scriptures. They are developing the ability to make moral judgments, so we add moral content such as moral parables, maxims from the Sermon on the Mount, and the 10 Commandments. They have a deep sense of the unity of all of creation, humankind and God that we nurture with images such as the True Vine, the bread and wine of Eucharist as signs of communion with God and others, and the vision of the fulfillment of the reign of God as one of complete peace, healing, and freedom.

In addition to the work in each atrium, there are several school-wide prayer services each year. These liturgical celebrations, led by the 9-12 year old students of CFMS, are the Thanksgiving Liturgy, the Epiphany Liturgy (after Christmas), and the Liturgy of the Light (an Easter Liturgy).