CGS Connection – The Prepared Adult

The past 4 CGS Connections have discussed the specially Prepared Environment, called the Atrium, which is created to serve the religious needs and potential of children. Today’s article discusses another essential element: The Prepared Adult.

With permission, we reprint excerpts from The United States Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Office of Formation, Catechesis-of-the-Good-Shepherd_An-Introduction.pdf
The environment and the materials are indirect instruments to serving children’s religious life. However, as Gianna Gobbi, one of the co-founders of CGS, writes in Listening to God with Children, “the most carefully prepared environment will be of little use if the catechist is not also carefully prepared.” It is the catechist who brings to life for the child the atrium environment and the materials, so that the child can hear and receive the Word that is being proclaimed. This catechesis is a religious experience shared by children and adults. The catechist, through formation, learns how to create the spiritual environment that is conducive for being attentive and responsive to God’s presence. The prepared catechist is a gift not only for the children, but also, the faith community.

Catechist formation courses include engaging in communal and individual prayer, experiencing all the biblical and liturgical presentations given to children at that level, reading and studying the themes that comprise the kerygma announced in the presentations, making materials, discussing and writing album pages, and knowing how to present the key announcements from scripture or the liturgy to children. All of these components serve to cultivate the spirit as well as knowledge of the catechist.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the catechist formation it offers echoes, too, the
Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae of St. Pope John Paul II on Catechesis in Our Time in which he writes, “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (I.5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd does this for adults and for children.

Catechists receiving formation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd learn how to be with children as it “nourishes the spirituality of the catechist” and “encourages the growth of this relational capacity” as cited in paragraphs 4.139 and 4.140 in the recently published Directory For Catechesis. In the process, catechists are better able to invite children into their own relationship with God through Jesus, and they are better able to participate in the Mass and the life of the parish.

In addition to the ever-present need for formed Catechists and Assistants, let it be known that CGS formation is valuable for any adult. The time and money commitment is well worth the investment. We have seen how the courses are spiritually transforming for adults and have literally changed lives – for example, through a healing moment from scripture, a greater awareness of a mystery of the Mass or a welling up of joyful praise which continues to reverberate.  Perhaps you will feel a nudge to discern and find a Level 1 course near you!