The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Level 1, is a Montessori-based religious formation program for 3-6 year olds, originally developed in Rome by Dr. Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi over 50 years ago. It seeks to create a sacred, “hands-on” space for children called an atrium, in which both the children and the catechists (teacher) can hear, ponder, and celebrate the most essential mysteries of the Catholic faith as revealed in the scriptures and the liturgy.
The environment is specially prepared to help create a very peaceful and quiet place where the children will experience wonder and awe which is guided by the very real presence of the Holy Spirit. We dim the lights and use our quiet voices to enable the children to draw near to the Lord by songs, scripture readings and various presentations. Creating this environment allows the child’s religious potential to come alive on their own: the capacity to love and be loved.
Here are some examples of what is learned through-out the year for the children:
- Hear about the Good Shepherd and are deeply affected by the boundless love of the shepherd for his sheep described in the scriptures. Learn that he knows his sheep, calls them by name, searches for a lost sheep and celebrates the found sheep.
- Use materials and hear presentations on the life of Christ and his teachings which help to make the great mystery of who God is more understandable for the child.
- Learn geography, the words of the prophets, and infancy narratives where Jesus is established as a real person.
- Use model cities of Jerusalem, empty tomb and cenacle for the Last Supper.
- Hear selected parables that further the wonder and curiosity about the great mystery of the Kingdom of God.
- Become familiar with the articles of the Eucharist and Baptism with the use of a miniature altar and font.
- Understand liturgical colors and calendars that lead them into the church year and its celebration of the Paschal Mystery: Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
- Use of a prayer table which reflects the liturgical time of year by means of appropriate colors, prayers, songs, artwork and readings.