Exploring Our Faith - The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
17 Feb, 2021
At St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School, we embrace the fact that an individual’s faith formation journey starts at a very young age. A child’s relationship with God begins as a natural curiosity and is fostered by the adults around them. Our religious program for grades PK2-2ndgrade, the Catechesis of the Good Shepard (CGS), makes Christ visible to our students through exploration and discovery.
“Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is different from other religious curricula for young children because it is not strictly about ‘teaching’ the faith, but is more about nurturing the child’s already present relationship with God,” said Loretta Martin, CGS Coordinator at SAA-SDS. “When our days are so overly scheduled, I love that Catechesis of the Good Shepherd provides the children a quiet, prayerful time that they can spend uninterrupted with God,” she added.
The CGS method was developed by Sofia Cavaletti, a biblical scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator in Rome in the 1950s. The program includes materials based on Catholic tradition, liturgy, and scripture, presented using the Montessori approach. Today, the CGS method is used in over 1,250 Catholic, Episcopal, Orthodox, and other Christian Churches.
Loretta became interested in CGS when her own children were young. Already a Montessori Primary Guide, she was familiar with the approach and immediately drawn to the work. She began to assist the Catechist at her parish and eventually pursued training for herself, which involved study of child development, scripture, and liturgy, as well as many hours of material presentation practice. Loretta studied with Rebekah Rocjewicz, who had trained in Rome with CGS program developers Cavaletti and Gobbi.
In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd the role of the adult leader, or Catechist, is to prepare an environment known as the Atrium, where the leader presents themes, listens, guides, and asks questions that ignite a child’s curiosity. The Atrium, designed to reflect a retreat environment, is a place conducive to prayer and joy.
Because the prepared environment is such a vital part of the CGS experience, COVID-19 restrictions have presented a huge challenge. Having modified her presentations and activities to be given over Zoom, Loretta also gives credit to the teachers.
“The classroom teachers have done an exceptional job in making little changes in their classrooms during Catechesis times to help create a calm and prayerful atmosphere,” Loretta said.
Loretta enjoys the privilege of spending time in prayer with the children. She is grateful to be able to share her faith with others, and she is always grateful when parents ask questions about CGS and when they communicate with her about what their child shares with them at home.
Loretta, who has been our CGS Coordinator for five years,has had the joy of watching what was her first class on our campus, then in Pre-Kindergarten, flourish into our current second graders.
“Mrs. Loretta is fun and nice. She loves teaching us about God. She wants us to learn as much as we can about God,” said St. Agnes 2ndgrader Reese Kirk.
Outside of school, Loretta is an avid photographer and reader and loves any opportunity to spend time with her family. If you have any questions about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, or would like to share your family faith stories with Loretta, she can be reached at email@example.com.
CGS Parent resources: