Accept

We use cookies in order to save your preferences so we can provide a feature-rich, personalized website experience. We also use functionality from third-party vendors who may add additional cookies of their own (e.g. Analytics, Maps, Chat, etc). Read more about cookies in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. If you do not accept our use of Cookies, please do not use the website.

Sunday Services at 8:30 and 11:15
 
Seeking the renewal of all things through Jesus Christ
Header Image

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

It is our desire to call every child into continual loving union with Jesus, training them to fully participate as members in the body of Christ through worship, prayer, and the scriptures. One of the ways we do this is through our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program for 3-year-olds.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a new program we introduced in September  2018. The class is for children who turn 3 by September 30 and is held upstairs in classrooms 209-210 right next to the library during the 10-11am hour. The class serves as the three-year-old Sunday School.

History

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to children's formation that was started in the 1950s by Sophia Cavaletti and Gianna Gobbi. Their work began when a friend asked Sophia to help teach the Bible to her son. Sophia held a PhD in Hebrew and was hesistant about trying to work with young children as she had never done so before. But the response of the boy changed her life. The joy she saw him experience as they read the scripture together showed her a child's capacity for loving God's Word. Over the next 50 years, Sophia and Gianna worked with children around the world, slowly and patiently learning with the children how to best study God's word together. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has now spread around the world and across denominational lines to be a truly ecumenical work.

Core Beliefs

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is based on several foundational beliefs:

– The child, as one created in the image of God,  has the capacity for relationship with God.
– The adult has the role of coming alongside the child in a spirit of humility to assist them in their relationship with God.
– Both the adult and the child come before God's word as learners. Christ is the only true teacher, and we all require the illumination of the Holy Spirit to show us His word.
– God's word is precious. It should be read with care and time should be given to ponder its truth and beauty. It does not need to be elaborated on with explanations, illustrations, etc.—proclaiming the word is enough.
– God has made us all to be embodied learners. Children in particular learn through their hands. Therefore, tangible manipulatable materials should be provided in conjunction with the stories that are presented.
– As embodied learners, the environment in which we are placed matters. Therefore, the environment should be carefully prepared both to welcome the children and to set a tone of sacredness for the space.

The Atrium

The term atrium was used in the early church to signify a room set apart outside of the main area of worship. It was here that new converts prepared to enter the life of the church. In Catechesis the room in which the children meet is called an atrium. This serves as a reminder that this space is special and that it is an important place where the young child is entering into the life of the church.

The atrium is set up in such a way as to best serve the children—everything is easily accessible and sized appropriately.

The atrium is filled with materials that the children can work with as they choose. The materials accompany the stories of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. They also accompany the kingdom parables. In addition, there are materials dealing with the life of our church—in particular the sacraments of baptism and communion. Children are introduced to the words and symbols of these two important parts of our church life.

The children and adults will gather for a time of singing and prayer to start or end their time. But most of the session is spent giving the children time to work on something of their choice. The adults walk around and help to show the children different materials and read to those who cannot read.

FAQ

1. Why is it only for three-year-olds? Will other ages be included in the future?
We want to lay a good foundation and take our time in building out Catechesis at Trinity. Every year we hope to include a new group of 3-year-olds. So next year, the 4- and 3-year-olds would be doing Catechesis. And we will slowly build from there.

2. Where do all the materials come from?
They were largely handmade by people in our church! Part of formative work of Catechesis for adults is actually the making of the material. It is an important way of bringing together people from the church body. And it adds beauty and value to the materials.

3. Is Catechesis a "Catholic" Sunday School?
The two women who started Catechesis were Catholic, but the method quickly became ecumenical. It has now spred around the world and is used in various traditions including Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Orthodox, and Catholic. In each tradition, the program has been adapted to represent the practices and theology of that tradition.

4. Can I sit in and watch a session in the atrium?
Yes, we welcome adults to observe. However, we will ask that only one or two adults visit at a time and that you observe only and do not seek out interactions with the children. This is to respect their time and work.

5. How can I learn more about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
You can visit their website. We also recommend Sophia Cavaletti's book, The Religious Potential of the Child. Or please feel free to contact the Children's Director, Elizabeth O'Donnell, who would love to talk to you about any questions you have: elizabeth.odonnell@trinitycville.org.