This is a simple description of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, initiated under the guidance of Dr. Sofia Cavalletti, Hebrew and Scripture scholar and member of the Vatican commission for Jewish-Christian relations, and Prof. Gianna Gobbi, colleague of Dr. Maria Montessori and educator of children and adults. It is a response to the hunger of the child: "Help me come close to God. Help me to be fully alive!"
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children, 3-12 years of age. It originated in 1954 with the founding of the children's center or "atrium" in Rome, Italy. Inspired by Montessori principles of education, it now extends to many countries, including Africa, Brasil, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Canada, and the United States. Atriums can be found in home, parish, and school settings.
Catechesis is based on the conviction that God and the child are in relationship. The child has a deep need to expreience in a special capacity to enjoy the presence of God. The task of the adult is to help the child live fully the encounter with God. When helped to do so, this experience becomes formative of the child's whole person and generates a great joy. "My body is happy," Stefania said after praying with other youngsters.