Subscribe & Follow:

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

What is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd or CGS?

Take a 4-minute peek at children involved in The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd here

It is a catechesis which offers a cycle of presentations to children, aged between 3 and 12 years of age. It is a time of preparation where children can learn and then receive Jesus’ love before they can fully understand the mass, the sacraments, the scriptures and what it means to be a Catholic Christian. It takes place in a sacred space called the atrium. Ideally, the atrium should be a dedicated space used just for children taking part in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). From my own research, during my MA thesis on the CGS (2011, Maryvale Institute), I found that a space that is brought out and then packed away just doesn’t have the same feeling of dedication and being ‘set apart’ for our children- or of the permanence of God. I think it works in a similar way to our churches: these are anointed/set apart and used for worship and faith matters alone. Roman Catholic churches would not bring in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and listen to secular music in order to raise money on behalf of a charity- no matter how good the music was!

A session will start with a small group of children who are gathered around a rug, with a Bible and a candle or they may be seated at a prayer table with its own Bible and candle. There may even be a procession to bring special objects to their rightful place on the prayer table. A candle is lit to show that God is present in His Word and then the appropriate 

passage of scripture is read aloud, straight from the Bible. The catechist will then start a conversation with the children, explaining any new concepts.

A new sensorial material will then be presented to the children. The presentation ends with a prayer or song. Once the material has been presented, the child can work with that material whenever they want. Follow up activities (tracing packets, drawings, etc.) are encouraged.  

So, for the rest of the session the children engage in which ever material the Holy Spirit draws them to, whilst the catechist prays. Children are supported by the

The Presentation of the Empty Tomb for ages 3-6 year, from an Atrium in England. Photo permission by owner Pascale Mary Rakowicz

catechist to, for example, light a candle or in any way that they need help. The idea is for the child to work on their own and to be touched by God. The catechist’s role is to remain in the background, prayerfully, whilst being observant and stepping in to support gently.

At the end of the session, there will be a gathering of the children, with some discussion of what touched them and perhaps finishing with a song or a prayer. Sessions can last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.

The Growing Relationship between the Child and Jesus

“I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father”

John 10:14-15

This scripture verse invites us into a relationship with Jesus, our Good Shepherd. He already knows us from before we were conceived and He wants us to know Him. This is what the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offers all children.

A relationship with Jesus.

During the various levels of the CGS that are offered for the different levels of development of the child, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), has a way of reaching the child’s heart mind, soul and spirit. These are some points that show how this is achieved:

  • Catechists are praying for the children, whilst the catechesis is in session.
  • The sacred space of the atrium, where the children work, should be blessed and holy.
  • The CGS respects the dignity of the child – allowing the child to ruminate on the things of God at his/ her own pace and at the child’s level. As many resources as possible are made by hand for the child. This shows the child how much they are loved and how strongly they are invited into the beauty of their Creator God.
  • By surrounding him/her with the good, the true and the beautiful: the transcendentals.
  • The good and the true-learning about God through scripture, the mass and the Catholic faith via the resources.
  • The beautiful– all resources have been handmade for the child by the catechists to reflect God’s beauty. This is seen from the beautiful dioramas to the scripture booklets and the models used in the parable activities. The ordered, peaceful and beautiful atrium is brimming with activities which attract the child.

Below are examples of presentation materials used in the CGS:

The Presentation of the Flight into Egypt, for 3-6 years, from an Atrium in England below

Showing the handmade scripture booklet and the presentation materials of the ‘Flight into Egypt’. Photo permission from atrium owner Pascale Mary Rakowitz.

A child praying spontaneously at the Prayer Table below

Photo permission from

The Presentation of the Visitation for 3-6 years to the right

Photo permission from

Notice the handmade models, the scripture reference and the beautifully simple diorama background.

The Presentation of the Last Supper for 3-6 years to the left

Photo permission from

The Presentation of the Last Supper shows the institution of the Eucharist, and also how easily this translates into The Mass…

To find out more about training up for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd or where there are Atria in the UK or in the USA, please follow the links:



A deeper view of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (4 minutes) can be seen here

If you have 57 minutes and want to hear seasoned catechist, Pascale Mary Rakowicz talk about her experience of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd on RADIO MARIA – listen here!