Early Childhood Catechesis
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a particular approach to faith formation for children beginning at the age of 3 years. It is a method of sharing the faith with the very youngest child that is based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s developmental stages of childhood. Maria Montessori told us that even before culture and doctrine are taught the child and God already know each other. There is a “falling in love” that takes place between God and the child when the environment, materials, and catechist are all prepared in such a way that the most vital needs of the child are met.
It has been discovered that early childhood is truly the “golden age” for religious education. The child of three can easily fall in love with the Good Shepherd, who calls them by name and leads them to all that they need. When the parable of the Good Shepherd is proclaimed there is a joy that is manifested by the child that cuts across all cultural and socio-economic barriers. Over timeThe child recognizes that they are the sheep, so loved and so special and a relationship is formed. After the age of six the face of God changes for the young child.God becomes more of a judge and the area of morality comes into play. Around the age of six the child becomes concerned with time and space and their role in this world but before that the child asks; “who am I and who are you Lord?” The answers to these questions are discovered when the child has time to wonder and delight in the most essential elements of our faith. So we prepare the environment, we make the materials, we proclaim The Word and then we get out of the way, believing that the one true Teacher (The Holy Spirit) will do the rest.
The preparation of the catechist is an essential component of this approach to faith formation. Often a true transformation takes place in the adult as they enter into the mystery of faith with the eyes of a child. The adult; through his or her preparation takes the time to wonder and delight in the mysteries and becomes a co-listener to the Word of God with the child, not necessarily the person with all the answers. Together their gaze is on the one true Source.
The Catechetical Office offers training in Level I (ages 3-6) and Level II (ages 6-9). Level I must be completed before moving on to Level II.
Would you like to know more?
Director of Early Childhood Catechesis
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office
1011 First Avenue - Room 1879
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (646) 794-2852
Fax: (212) 980-1035