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Children's Ministries

Welcome

Welcome to the  Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the learning model for Children's Ministries at St. John's.

Overview

The Catechesis is a Montessori-based Christian formation program where children grow in their relationship with God through a deep engagement in scripture and liturgy. This program lays the foundation for a life grounded in an awareness of God's love. 

Our primary beliefs are that God and the child have a unique relationship with one another and that the growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child.

What We Do

During the school year, children meet from 9:15 a.m. until 10:25 a.m. on Sundays.  We currently offer the Catechesis in three levels:
  • Level I Atrium (ages 3 to 6)
  • Level II Atrium (ages 6 to 9)
  • Level III Atrium (ages 9 to 12)
A typical Sunday morning session includes:
  1. A teacher presents a short lesson on the Bible or the Liturgy.
  2. Students then work on their own with materials of their choosing.
  3. All gather for worship at the prayer table.

Notes For Parents

As a parent, you can support the Catechesis program by following these best practices:
  • Bring your child regularly and arrive on time.  The children receive new presentations weekly, which delve further and deeper into the faith as the school year progresses. Your child’s participation in the Catechesis will contribute to the spiritual growth of your entire family. Please know that children may not wish to talk about what they have been doing or may not be able to. 
  • Consider that Catechesis sessions are more like going to Church than going to school.  Just as it might feel strange to have someone question you about what you did or felt in worship, children may not wish to answer questions about their time in the Atrium, or may not be able to put into words what has happened there. 
  • Make affirming comments about your child's time spent growing with God. When you have questions about what your child is doing in the Atrium, talk to a teacher to learn more. Very few papers and crafts are sent home, but children take something home on the inside, just as adults do when they attend church. Art work and collages that children create during the year are collected in a folder. A few times during the year, your child will review his or her folder with the teacher and then bring home the collection. Teachers will communicate with families via letters, meetings, and personal conversations.

Glossary of Terms

Terms used regularly in the Catechesis may be new to partents. Becoming familiar with these terms will make it easier to understand the work being done .
  • Catechesis: Originally referring to instruction in preparation for Baptism, catechesis, as used in our program, describes the method used to prepare children to participate fully in Christian community. 
  • Catechist: A teaching adult who guides the children. The Catechist is not a teacher in the traditional sense. Instead he or she prepares the space where God and the child can come together. Catechists create materials, present them, and then wonders with the child about God. 
  • Atrium: Originally a word describing the room-sized porch or entryway into the Church where people new to the faith were instructed for Baptism, the Atrium is the area prepared for the children's learning experience by the Catechist. It is not a classroom; it is a place of religious experience, community, and worship.
  • Materials: Objects that teach. Materials are often handmade and beautiful. Importantly, they are closely linked to the Bible and liturgy. Children work with materials to meditate on the stories of our faith and to reflect on the traditions of our worship. Examples include:
    • Level I: Mmall figures of Mary and the angel for the Annunciation; water, yeast, and flour for the Parable of the Leaven; and a small Baptismal font and Paschal candle to explore Holy Baptism.
    • Level II: The Holy Bible, pin maps of Israel, city of Jerusalem, and Synthesis of the Eucharist. 
  • Presentation: Instruction given by the teacher to the child. The Word of God is proclaimed through a scripture reading or a description of an aspect of the liturgy and a demonstration of how to use the associated materials. 
  • Work: The child's use of materials. Different than play, working with the materials is the job of the child, the way that he or she delves deeply into biblical story and liturgy. 
To learn more about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, go to www.cgsusa.org, or contact Martha Spring.
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