Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

May 9, 2016

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.

Helpful Resources:

The Characteristics of the Catechesis: 32 Points of Reflection

All About the Atrium Newsletter: “Help Me to Do It Myself”

All About the Atrium Newsletter: “What is the Atrium?”




St. William of York Catholic School

3130 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA 22554

Phone: 540-659-5207

Fax: 540-659-9863

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