Events to tout religious ed

Sunday, May 21, 2017 - Updated: 2:00 pm
Pittsburgh Catholic Staff Report

Three events are planned in early June to promote Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a religious education program for children ages 3-12.

An organ concert, “Transformed and Renewed,” will feature music by Daniel Ficarri at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at St. John Neumann Parish in Franklin Park. Ficarri was taught in the parish Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program for nine years and is a current student at the Juilliard School in New York.

A free-will offering will be collected to benefit the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a silent auction.

“Our hope is that Thursday evening’s concert will raise awareness of CGS and the long-term effect it has on children like Danny, who take their relationship with Jesus and love of the church into adulthood and their future career,” said Barbara Matera, CGS coordinator at St. John Neumann. “We also hope that those who attend will understand the vital role played by the national association in assuring the continuity and integrity of CGS in the United States.”

Anyone interested in touring a local atrium, or parish program, on Friday, June 2, from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. is invited to contact Amanda Kramer at 724-482-2362. A free lunch will be provided at St. Catherine of Sweden Parish in Hampton Township.

A Catechesis of the Good Shepherd regional gathering is set for Saturday, June 3, at St. John Neumann from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Keynote speaker will be Mary Mirrione, CGS national director.

There will be breakout sessions, concluding with a 5:30 vigil Mass for Pentecost. Cost is $25, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Register by going to the national association’s website at cgsusa.org and finding a link under the “News and Events” tab, or call Kramer at the phone number above.

“The Friday and Saturday events are designed to support catechists and aides involved in this work and to educate parents,” Matera said. “Since children are greatly affected by their environment, and one of the primary duties of a CGS catechist is to set up an environment conducive to prayer, it is always of great interest to catechists to see how others have configured the atrium space for the child’s prayer and work. The Friday tours will allow catechists to see how others have arranged the space; they will also allow those newer to CGS to see what a Level 2 and Level 3 atrium look like and what materials are used in those levels.

“Saturday will be a retreat experience of reflecting on the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” she said. “There will be breakout sessions on practical aspects of working with children, including observation, materials making, training of assistants and the child’s art response. Parents who attend will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the CGS method of spiritual formation that engages their children.”

The CGS program was founded in Rome in 1954 by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi, a disciple of the Montessori method of education. They discovered that the parable of the Good Shepherd was effective in bringing children of all ages into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd helps children come to know Jesus through the words of Scripture and liturgical prayers, Matera said.

“They take the serenity they have found in his presence home with them, often asking their parents to set up a prayer space where they — and their family — can enjoy spoken and silent prayer,” she said.

CGS catechists are prepared with 90 hours of training for Level 1 (ages 3-6), 90 hours for Level 2 (ages 6-9) and 120 hours for Level 3 (ages 9-12), plus usually a year of observation for each level, Matera said.

“A formation course is often an experience of spiritual awakening and deepening of faith for the catechist, a transformative moment that leads to zeal in one’s own life of faith and in proclaiming the Good News to children in the atrium.”

The National Association of CGS is a nonprofit membership association entrusted with facilitating formation courses for catechists; translating and publishing books used as texts and enrichment for catechists and parents; and connecting more than 2,000 members nationwide through a website, newsletters and an annual journal.

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