The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was born from the joy of the children in their encounter with God and lives in being nourished by this joy. It has also been observed that children of the same developmental stage even though belonging to different cultural backgrounds, respond to certain elements of the Christian message in the same way. Over time through being with children in a specially prepared environment called an atrium, observing and listening to their responses, scriptural and liturgical themes developed that most resonated with children’s religious needs according to their age levels. Thus the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd divests itself of any strictly scholastic character, so as to become an experience of life, an education in faith, and a celebration of the encounter with the Father, in listening to Jesus, the one Teacher, and in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Sofia Cavalletti was a privileged witness to that encounter, and to the children’s total engagement with the Mystery being revealed, and it changed her life. Beginning in 1954, she and Gianna Gobbi began a “long work” together of tirelessly observing children and seeking to put in their hands the particular announcements from the Bible and the liturgy that seemed to most deeply satisfy their spiritual hungers. Their indicator that the “food” being offered truly matched the need and capacity of the children, was the children’s joy, a peaceful kind of joy that led them to further contemplation, especially through their personal work with the corresponding material, and to prayer.
At Mary, Seat of Wisdom, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is incorporated in the life of both our Primary and Elementary classrooms. For more information, please contact our catechist, Monica Stoutz: