Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (Pre-K through 4th Grades)
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children founded on the educational principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, believed that her method of education for young children found its fulfillment in their religious formation. Dr. Montessori, a devout Catholic, believed that even very young children could understand the truths of our faith if they actively participated in works which represented the life of the Church. Her work in catechesis was expanded upon and developed over the course of over 50 years by Dr. Sofia Cavaletti, a Hebrew and scripture scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator, and today their work is known around the world as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Atrium Level I (ages 3-6)
Level I serves children ages 3-6, or preschool through Kindergarten. The central theme of this level is the Parable of the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep, loves His sheep, and calls His sheep by name. In Level I, the relationship between the child and Jesus Christ in the image of the Good Shepherd is fostered as the children are introduced to the Bible, the life of Christ, the sacrament of Baptism, and the Liturgy through materials especially prepared for their use.
In these first years, the children learn the nomenclature of the Altar, the gestures of the Eucharist, the liturgical colors, geography of the land of Israel, messianic prophesies from the Old Testament, the infancy and paschal narratives of Jesus from the New Testament, parables of the Kingdom of God, and the sacrament of Baptism. The Hail Mary is introduced through the actual scripture verses found in the Gospel of Luke.
Atrium Level II (ages 6-9)
Level II serves the 6-9 year-old child, or Grades 1 – 3. The central theme of Level II is the parable of the True Vine in which Jesus states that “I am the vine and you are the branches,” and repeatedly asks us to remain or abide in Him. This theme is further expanded as the children are introduced to the History of Kingdom of God through the presentation of works relating to salvation history and by introducing to the children the concept of their own roles in bringing about the Kingdom of God. In these years, children are developing a sense of right and wrong, of what they should do and what they should not do, and are preparing for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. They prepare for and reflect upon these sacraments by continuing their study of the parables of the Kingdom of God, the moral parables and the maxims of Jesus found in the Bible, and the Holy Mass.
In Level II, the children also study the Books of the Bible, the Origin of the Eucharist, the elements of the Mass, the Mystery of Faith, Biblical Geography, Moral Parables, Maxims of Jesus, the Our Father, and the Passion Narratives. They also explore at a deeper level the Messianic Prophesies, the Infancy Narratives, the Good Shepherd, the Kingdom Parables, and the Sacrament of Baptism.