Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Ages 4 to 12
Children gather in a room (called an atrium) that is specially prepared for them to provide simple – yet beautiful – materials that they use to draw nearer to God. In the early church, the atrium was the place where the catechumens were prepared. For the child, the atrium is a place of preparation for involvement in the larger worshiping community.
In our shared space environment, the office (on the second floor) is transformed to be an atrium on Sundays.
Because the atrium is a sacred space, children are taught to remove their shoes at the door, to lower their voices, to speak and walk more slowly (never run), and to always respect the space where another child is working unless invited to join.
Younger children may do so by placing wooden figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd or setting sculpted apostles around a Last Supper table. Those children old enough to read may copy parables from the Bible, place in order the prayers from the Rite of Baptism, or label a timeline of the kingdom of God.
There are never tests or quizzes, however, and the catechist is not a teacher. The Word is shared with the child to receive and respond. Lessons are presented for the children to ponder. For example, the catechist might simply say “I wonder what Mary thought when…”.