St. James Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

 

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children.

It is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather in an “atrium,” a room prepared for them, which contains simple yet beautiful materials they use to help them absorb the most essential proclamations of the Christian faith

If an adult hears a beautiful passage from the Bible, the adult might take a Bible, find the passage, and read it slowly again and again. He or she may think deeply about the words and perhaps speak to God in a thankful or hopeful prayer.

A little child, too young to read, needs another way. In an atrium the child can ponder a biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy by taking the material for that text and working with it – placing wood figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting sculpted apostles around a Last Supper table, or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used for the Eucharist.

You may be wondering how these materials help the religious life of children. If an adult hears a beautiful passage from the Bible, the adult might take a Bible, find the passage, and read it slowly again and again. He or she may think deeply about the words and perhaps speak to God in a thankful or hopeful prayer. A little child, too young to read, needs another way.

In an atrium the child can ponder a biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy by taking the material for that text and working with it – placing wood figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting sculpted apostles around a Last Supper table, or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used for the Eucharist. Older children often copy parables from the Bible, place written prayers in order from the rite of baptism, or label a long time line showing the history of the kingdom of God.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is built on the foundations of the Word of God and the Liturgy. All presentations are based directly on Scripture, without any additions or simplifications, and the Word of God is not “taught” as in a traditional classroom, but is rather received and explored by the child, together with the catechist.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an intrinsically liturgical program, and exists with the aim of allowing the child to enter and participate with a fuller understanding and joy in the life of the Church. For this, the curriculum of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd follows the cycle of the Liturgical Year, focusing on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.

We will be opening the atrium for the 3 – 6 year old child during the 2011-2012 school year. Atrium sessions will take place on Monday evenings from 5:30 to 7 pm in the School.

To learn more about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, click here.

To register your child for the 2011-2012 school year, click here. (link will be changed to go to the online form page once it is ready)

For more information, contact Mr. Pat Smaldone at (720) 530-0833 or religious.ed@stjamesdenver.org.