The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a religious education program for children ages 4-12. Because it is attuned to the developmental and spiritual needs of children, the Catechesis experience is both religious education and spiritual formation. The focus is on helping each child strengthen his or her personal prayer life, participation in corporate worship, and growing knowledge of the Bible and of God’s unfolding salvific work throughout history. This holistic approach to Orthodox catechesis should enrich both our children and the volunteers who serve them, fostering a culture of continual spiritual growth.
Characteristics of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd taken from the CGS 32 Points of Reflection:
- The child, particularly the religious life of the child, is central to the interest and commitment of the catechist of the Good Shepherd. …The catechists live with the child a shared religious experience according to the teaching of the gospel: “Except you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3)
- The atrium is a community in which children and adults live together a religious experience which facilitates participation in the wider community of the family, the church and other social spheres.
- The atrium is a place of prayer, in which work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer.
- The atrium is a place in which the only Teacher is Christ; both children and adults place themselves in a listening stance before his Word and seek to penetrate the mystery of the liturgical celebration.
- The themes presented in the atrium are those to which the children have responded with depth and joy. These themes are taken from the Bible and the liturgy (prayers and sacraments) as the fundamental sources for creating and sustaining Christian life at every developmental stage and, in particular, for illuminating and nourishing the child in his/her most vital religious needs.
- The Word is proclaimed in the most objective manner possible, so that the words of the adult do not impede the communication between God who speaks and God’s creature who listens. The only aim of the words of the adult is to discreetly serve the listening to God’s Word, in accordance with Jesus’ own statement in the gospel: “My teaching is not mine but His who sent Me.”
- …the life in the atrium follows the liturgical year; therefore, moments which are particularly intense are those of Nativity/Theophany and Pascha/Pentecost.
- A material is placed at the disposal of the children. The children’s personal work with the material aids their meditation on and absorption of the theme presented.
- The material makes it possible for the catechist to assume his/her proper “post” as “the useless servant.” (Luke 17:10) This expression indicates that the catechist has a task to perform, a role to fulfill, whose results, however, go much farther from what he/she does, because the only Teacher is Christ.
- The attitude of the adult has to be marked by humility before the capacities of the child, establishing a right rapport with the child, that is to say, respecting the personality of the child, and waiting for the child to reveal himself/herself.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is also concerned with helping adults open their eyes to the hidden riches of the child, especially to the child’s spiritual wealth, so that adults will be drawn to learn from the child to serve him/her. The guiding principles in this endeavor are:
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd does not seek success.
- It does not set about to be important or to impress others. (Isaiah 10:33-11:10)
- It is faithful to the spirit of the mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31)
- It stands in solidarity with the least in the church.
Atrium Level 1 (ages 4 – 6): Sarah Finley, Cindy Karnaghon, Trish Ratliff, & Keith Parker.
Atrium Level 2 (ages 6-9): Kh. Pamela Mashburn, Claire van Drimmelen, & Corey van Huystee.