The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a religious formation approach based on scripture and liturgy that uses the educational and pedagogical principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. The CGS roots are in the Roman Catholic tradition and have been adapted for the Episcopal Church. The Catechism of the Episcopal Church, found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer, is a series of questions and answers that outline our faith.  In comparison, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is framed to where children are encouraged to ask the questions and to discover the answers through work with specially crafted presentations and materials. The content corresponds to the liturgical seasons and the life of the church.

What is an atrium?

The atrium is an environment prepared to nurture the already present spirituality of children. Dr. Montessori borrowed the term “atrium” from the early church, as it was the space where the catechumens were prepared for Baptism. The atrium contains a variety of hands-on materials that are developmentally appropriate for the age range of children that they serve. The catechists and other parishioners make made many of the materials as part of their own personal formation experience.

Who is a catechist?

The catechist is the adult who has undergone a personal formational experience with preparation in the Biblical and liturgical themes that correspond with the developmental stages of the children.  The adults who work with children are called, not recruited.  They take on a servant leadership role, using facilitation instead of direct instruction techniques. In addition to their formation and training, the catechists are vetted with background and security checks.

What are the ages of the children served by the CGS?  

Traditionally, children begin the CGS at or around age three. As with the Montessori model, each atrium serves a three-year age span of children up to age 12. We have three atria, located on the main floor of the parish house and an additional toddler atrium, adjacent to the nursery, that serves children 2-3 years of age,

When is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offered?

CGS is meets each Sunday, during the program year, 9:30-11:30. The time includes, song, prayer, presentation and work.  Moreover, the atrium is a place of prayer, simply put; the children’s work is their prayer. The transitional toddler atrium is offered 9:30-10:30, allowing younger children to acclimate to the environment.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Formation for Adults?

Parents, clergy, and other interested adults are drawn to the very rich, retreat-like courses in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Through formation courses in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, adults have the opportunity to see all age appropriate presentations and materials given to children from the Bible and liturgy. Each formation course focuses on a specific developmental age group of the child.

For more information, please contact Anna Hurdle (ahurdle@st-peters.org), director of Children’s formation.