Teaching Children About the Life of Jesus: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Joseph
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a hands-on and reflective-based method of religious formation, is now in its third year at our parish cluster. CGS seeks to help the child develop his/her relationship with God in a developmentally appropriate way. Each CGS session is led by a trained catechist, aided by an assisted and held in the atrium, a specially prepared room with materials to help the children pray and meditate on essential aspects of our faith. This year a total of 28 students are participating in level 1 (for ages 3-5) and level 2 (for ages 6-9).
The themes meditated on in the atrium follow the liturgical calendar. During Advent we heard prophecies concerning the virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14), the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), the great light (Isaiah 9:1), and the names of the messiah (Isaiah 9:5). The accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the adoration of the Magi and the presentation in the temple we’re also pondered.
For this short season of ordinary time, our attention turns to other themes: Parables concerning the kingdom of God, in which we hear about the mustard seed, a Pearl merchant, a measure of yeast, a buried treasure, and a growing seed.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name and searches for the lost. Who also calls us to the sheepfold of the church, where he gives himself fully to us in the Eucharist. The gestures (movements) and prayers of the priest at mass, such as the mingling of water and wine in the chalice, the calling down of the Holy Spirit, the offering of thanks, and the washing of hands.
During Lent the focus shifts to themes preparing for Holy Week and Easter, such as the last supper, Jesus’s arrest, trial, death, and resurrection, as well as meditating on Jesus’s words recorded in the gospel of John “Amen, amen, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat: but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (12:24)
The year concludes with the celebration of Easter when Christ the Great Light rises in glory, the gospel account of the empty tomb, the gift of Christ’s light shared with us in baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. For more information about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at our parish, please contact the religious education office. Registration for the next school year begins in Fall 2024.