Taking a New Approach to Catechesis on Different Levels
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) — a liturgy- and scripture-based approach to the religious formation of children from three to 12 years in the archdiocese of Cape Town — utilises Montessori educational principles in acknowledging the unique developmental and spiritual needs and capacities of the child.
The child’s relationship with God is at the centre and heart of this catechesis.
Inspired by the pioneering work in education of Maria Montessori and her observations concerning the developmental and spiritual needs of the child, CGS was developed in Rome by Dr Sofia Cavalletti, a Catholic Hebrew scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator, in 1954.
Since it is based on scripture, liturgy and the child, this catechesis adapts to children of all cultures and continues to spread worldwide.
Children Can Ponder the Mysteries of Faith
Central to this approach is a trained catechist and a prepared, sacred “atrium” space for children, in which both children and catechists can ponder and celebrate the mysteries of the Christian faith in the scriptures and the liturgy.
Once children are shown a work (usually made by hand) on a particular topic, the accompanying material remains available to them.
This means they are free to continue their meditation on the subject through their own use of the materials, whenever they wish.
The Fundamental Theme of Covenant
“Each level of the child’s work explores the fundamental theme of covenant, God’s call, and our response, as reflected in the Bible and lived in the liturgy,” training facilitator Melaney Roodt said.
At Level I those aged three to six have the capacity to receive key elements of the Catholic faith: the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and the announcement of God’s love given to us in the person of Jesus.
At Level II children of six to nine focus on the image of the True Vine, deepening their relationship with God, family, friends and the larger community as they prepare for Communion, and broadening their understanding of Mass.
At Level III those aged nine to 12 listen to the Old Testament, following the history of God’s plan for salvation, linking all people together.
Training is open to any catechist or would-be catechist interested in the religious formation of children.
Cape Town archdiocese requires that candidates complete a pastoral formation programme prior to or concurrently with CGS training.
Contact trainers Philippa Kempen (Table View Atrium) at firstname.lastname@example.org, Melaney Roodt (Westridge Atrium) at email@example.com, and Traci de Beer (CBC Atrium) at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.