Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Montessori-based faith formation program founded on two pillars: Sacred Scripture and Holy Liturgy. Through the use of Scripture and materials, which we call “work,” children are invited to enter into a deeper relationship with God. Over 500 of our parish’s children in both the PSR and school visit our three atria each week. For students in our school, CGS serves as a supplement to the religious education they receive in the classroom. For our parish children not enrolled in our school, CGS serves as their primary faith formation program.
During our time together, we focus on encouraging the formation of personal prayer life, helping our children to participate fully in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, and working to develop a deeper understanding of our Catholic identity and Tradition. Each session in the atrium is led by a certified catechist who is aided by a volunteer atrium assistant. To learn more about volunteering in the atrium, please contact our program coordinator, Julie Dilley at [email protected] or 614.875.3322, extension 326.
CGS has three levels of atria, each serving specific grade levels:
Level I: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten
Level II: Grades 1-3
Level III: Grades 4-6
All CGS classes are offered during the school year. Our school children visit the atrium weekly as part of their school day. In addition, we offer CGS as our PSR program for our students who are homeschooled or attend a public school.
This program is so different than anything my kids have experienced before. I was very hesitant for them to participate in a program without a text book, where I really couldn’t gage what they were doing or getting. However, after three years with Mrs. Dilley I am blown away by how the faith is just a part of him! It’s not just facts he knows and can recite. He knows Jesus! That’s a gift greater than any textbook!
- Parent of a child making their First Holy Communion
The child’s work in the atrium is their prayer. It is their developing relationship with God.
The work of your child in the atrium is very precious. Some hold that work very closely-perhaps not feeling comfortable yet with the language that explains it. Trust that discussion will come when your child feels ready to share.
Be patient! Ideas have been planted; children ponder greatly. When your child is ready, you will hear about the atrium. Your young child may “set an altar” at home or begin to ask permission to watch a sibling do something. You may hear snippets of a song and can ask a Catechist to give you a copy of the song so you can sing at home. Your older child may engage in conversation with you; you’ll both learn from these talks.
In each atrium, each child has a personalized folder in which to store sacred artwork in progress or completed. Any artwork your child chooses to create will be sent home a few times per year. We suggest you take some quiet time to study the contents, asking your child to interpret and teach you about it. A child might like to see a special drawing framed and displayed in his room or may prefer to keep the whole folder in a safe place. Reverence their work according to their lead.
There will be children with thick folders, children with slim folders and children who discover their folder is empty. Children with empty folders have simply been involved in other work (meditating over how the wise men knew where to find baby Jesus, dressing the altar, setting the prayer table, and so on).
There are many ways for parents to become involved in CGS. Parents are given the opportunity to visit and observe in the atrium once the year is underway and routines are established. Parents or volunteers can assist in the atrium, volunteer as a door monitor, and provide support in replenishing consumables, repairing materials, and constructing or shopping for new materials. Parents who volunteer are also eligible for a tuition discount.
For more information on the CGS approach, please visit www.cgsusa.org
For more information about Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s CGS program, please contact Julie Dilley at [email protected] or 614.875.3322, ext. 326.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is offered in 3 Levels
Level I is offered to children ages 3-6 years old.
The children visit the atrium once a week, and are given individual presentations with sensorial materials. They are then free to work independently in the environment. The focus in level I is God as our Good Shepherd. We come together as a group at the prayer table for prayer and song at the end of class. Level one works through a three year cycle. Each year the child is introduced to new materials, or deeper lessons on materials they are already familiar with.
Level II is offered to children ages 6-9 years old.
The children spend time in the atrium session once a week. Their presentations are given either individually or in small groups. The materials are available to work with however, they are also encouraged to work independently or in small groups to explore each lesson on a deeper level. The presentations in level II center on God as the True Vine. Older students also work together to plan and lead a prayer service for the group. Again, level II is arranged in a three year cycle of lessons, so each year offers new lessons and new materials.
Level III is for children ages 9-12 years old.
The level III children also spend time in the atrium each week. In level three, the focus of the lessons is “God in Time.” There are more in depth Scripture studies of the Old Testament, and they dig into timeline work, seeing how God has acted in time, in the present, and what He says about the parousia… when God will be all in all.