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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd workshops held in Saskatoon

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd philosophy and methods shared for sacramental preparation of young children

Carolyne Marie Petch (above, at the right) and Dr. Debbie Zeni, MD, (below), leaders in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program in Canada, offered a sacramental preparation workshop for catechists, parents and parish leaders April 21, 2018 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Saskatoon.

Held in conjunction with the CGS Association of Canada, the workshop offered hands-on insights into preparing children for the celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Eucharist.

The two CGS leaders also offered an April 22-27 training session in Saskatoon for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechists - Level 1 (journeying with children ages 3 to 6 years).

There are currently three CGS atriums forvyoung children in the diocese of Saskatoon -- at St. Francis Xavier and St. Patrick parishes in Saskatoon, and in Vonda, SK, serving the Trinity Pastoral Region.



 What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?

Hands-on and grounded in a Montessori understanding of the developmental needs of children, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd recognizes the great spiritual capacity of even the youngest children to form a meaningful relationship with God, as well as to understand, participate and respond to scripture and liturgy, and express their deep faith.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd "atriums" -- the sacred space where children experience Bible stories and hands-on materials that bring alive the scriptures, prayer and liturgy -- have now been established by several local catechsits at St. Vincent Lerins Orthodox Church, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and St. Patrick Catholic Church in Saskatoon, as well as at Vonda, SK for the Trinity Catholic parishes. 

One focal point of the atrium is a model of the sheepfold, with figures of Christ the Good Shepherd and the sheep – which can be set up next to a model of an altar surrounded by the people of God – all used in presenting the Parable of the Good Shepherd and the meaning of the Eucharist. A variety of centres throughout the atrium permit children to become fully and prayerfully engaged in scripture and the liturgical year, through hands-on activity and reflective experience.

CGS materials are not purchased “ready made” but are prayerfully developed by the adult leaders, who themselves undertake a spiritual journey of deepening and expressing faith as part of preparing to offer the program. 

In CGS, the catechist is not considered a teacher – “remembering that the only teacher is Christ” ¬ but rather as one who journeys and celebrates with the children in respect and humility, grounded in the Word of God, the liturgical year, and the sacramental life of the Church.

Founded in Rome by scripture scholar Sofia Cavaletti with the help of Montessori collaborator Gianna Gobbi some 60 years ago, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was introduced to Canada by Patricia Coulter in the Archdiocese of Toronto in the 1980s. Gradually interest grew, with more people asking for the course in Canada, and in 2005 the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Association of Canada was formed as a registered charitable organization (  

For more information about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in our diocese see the local website at  or see the Facebook page at: or visit the national website at

Local leaders: Cynthia Foster at or (306) 955-4854; Lisette Fontaine at (306) 258-2212 or e-mail: or Jane Korvemaker at St. Patrick Parish.

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