Catechesis of the Good Shepherd being offered in diocese Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Rachel Digman, Blessed Sacrament Parishioner   
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a Montessori-based method of Catholic faith formation that allows the individual child, from age three to 12, to encounter God through a deep exploration of Scripture and liturgy.

Several families in the Madison area have been working this past year offering the program in their home parishes.

This spring and summer, the Diocese of Madison is offering training sessions for those interested in becoming catechists for this unique way of helping children build and deepen their personal relationship with God.

Unique program

In the atrium (the name for the special room where catechesis takes place) the catechist serves as a guide on the side, providing the tools and help that each child needs in their spiritual journey and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them.

At each session in the atrium, the children are given a new presentation, such as how to prepare the altar, the parable of the lost coin, or the explanation of a sacrament.

When Scripture is read, the words are taken directly from the Bible.

Sofia Cavalletti, the foundress of CGS, discovered in her work that children as young as age three are able to understand God's words in the way they were written and that it is important from this young age for them to hear the Word of God in its true form.

As a result, the Scripture encountered in CGS are selected specifically to resonate with children and meet their spiritual needs.

As the children grow older, they encounter deeper and broader themes in CGS. For example, older children may work with a scale model of the city of Jerusalem to help them physically move from place to place along with Jesus in his last days before his Passion.

Other upper level works include learning the books of the Bible, entering into the Rite of Baptism, encountering the infancy and paschal narratives, and discovering the history of the Kingdom of God in a presentation that places historical events in a timeline of salvation history allowing the child to see how he or she is a living part of God's plan.

After a theme has been presented and the catechist has led the group in communal or private meditation using the materials they have just seen, the child in the atrium has the chance to work with that presentation or other works and dialogue with God in his or her own way.

Children work in small groups or by themselves so as to create space for their interior encounter with Jesus. The catechist assists by reading the text if a child cannot yet read or assisting with setting up a material or presentation.

Catechist training

The training that a catechist undergoes for CGS is thorough (see dates listed below), and it is a beautiful opportunity to encounter God in a personal way.

Training dates for CGS in the Madison area will be held:

• Level I -- May 16 to 20, at Bishop O'Connor Catholic Center, Madison.

• Level I -- July 25 to 29, at St. Paul Parish, Waukesha.

"The CGS training was one of the best decisions I have ever made for my family," said Katie Haun, one of the CGS catechists in the Madison area.

"It was a kind of retreat. It enriched my own spiritual life through the desire for my children to come to know God and has enkindled our relationship with Christ, multiplying our love of the liturgy. God has given our entire family many graces through our efforts in CGS."

A person can learn more about CGS, by observing a Level I atrium in person, as there are two currently in operation.

Haun is a Level I (ages three to six) catechist at St. Christopher Parish in Verona and Stephanie Stokman (Level I) serves as a catechist at St. Bernard Parish in Madison.

The catechists will set up a time to observe the atrium and see the beauty of CGS.

The website for CGS -- -- is a great resource for finding out more about the program.

Consider whether training to be a CGS catechist is something you are called to do. It can be a gift to one's parish community, but even more so, a renewal of one's own faith and the faith life of the family.

Those interested in training can reach out to the parish director of religious education or find registration information at

Those interested in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for each parish or who would like to attend training and/or learn more about the program, see the diocesan website at this link or contact Michelle Nilsson, Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, at 608-821-3160 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please support our advertisers: