Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
“If we want to help the child draw nearer to God, we should with patience and courage seek to
go always closer to the vital nucleus of things. This requires study and prayer. The children will
be our teachers if we know how to observe them.” – Sofia Cavalletti
St. William of York Catholic School welcomes three to five-year- old students to its Catechesis
of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program. The CGS builds moral foundations by allowing children
to joyfully encounter the love of the Good Shepherd.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd began in Rome in the 1950s, developed by biblical scholar
Sofia Cavalletti and Montessori educator Gianna Gobbi. Today, CGS is offered in more than 37
countries and is approved in the Arlington diocese for use as a catechetical program for the
sacramental preparation of children.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium is a special room in which to learn about God, a
retreat center designed especially for the religious needs of the child. A trained catechist prepares
the Atrium environment and facilitates reflection on Scripture, Biblical geography and history,
liturgy, and prayer.
In the ancient Church, the “atrium” was the entrance way where catechumens, those preparing to
become full members of the Church, received instruction. Similarly, the CGS Atrium is a place
where the child can enter into fuller participation in the life of the Church.
Items in the CGS Atrium are child-sized, often handmade, and made from natural materials
(wood, glass, brass, etc.) as much as possible. The beautiful, prayerful environment and materials
invite the child into a real, personal relationship with God.
Dr. Maria Montessori once overheard a child say, “Help me do it myself.” This comment aptly
describes the child’s desire for independence. Through the self-chosen, meditative nature of both
practical and spiritual work in the Atrium, children grow in practical and emotional skills.
By engaging children’s deepest questions in an environment built to allow as much
independence as possible, the CGS Atrium nourishes the incredible religious potential of the
children, allowing them to fall deeply in love with the mystery of God.