Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS)

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children in PreK through 6th grade (ages 3 to 12 years of age). It is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather with catechists in an “atrium”, a room prepared for them, which contains simple yet beautiful materials they use to help them absorb the most essential proclamations of the Christian faith.

The atrium is divided into three levels of formation under these general guidelines:

  • Level I – 3 to 6 years of age (PreK3 and 4, and Kindergarten) – The 3-6-year-old child is particularly capable of receiving and enjoying the most essential elements of our faith – the announcement of God’s love especially experienced through Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen. The heart of the catechesis for children under six revolves around the Parable of the Good Shepherd who loves the sheep and calls each one by name. The 3-6-year-old child enters the mystery of the Eucharist by first learning the names of the articles used on the altar and the gestures of the Mass. The child becomes acquainted with the historical character of the liturgy through the events of the Last Supper, Christ’s death, and His resurrection. (from the CGSUSA website)
  • Level II – 6 to 9 years of age (1st, 2nd and 3rd grades) – 6 to 9 years of age (1st to 3rd grades) – The elementary age child is captured by the image of the True Vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” The proclamation responds to the deep need of these children to better know his or her relationship with God, family, friends, and the larger community. Moral parables offer a model for comparing their behavior with that of the Pharisee, the Tax Collector, or the Good Samaritan. The elementary children see the parts of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word, the Preparation of the Gifts, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Communion – as one unified prayer made of many smaller prayers. Children prepare for the celebration of First Communion through a series of meditations focusing on the relationship with Jesus. Preparation of personal missals filled with illustrations and prayers is also part of this preparation which helps to deepen their love and understanding of the Eucharist. (from the CGSUSA website)
  • Level III – 9 to 12 years of age (4th, 5th and 6th grades) – The history of salvation focusing on the plan of God as a plan of communion, a plan which links all people together through God’s love, delights the older child. The emphasis is on our response to this unfolding generosity of God and recognition of the responsibilities that come with receiving God’s great gifts and seeing oneself as a collaborator with God. “What is the kingdom of God and my place in it?” is a cosmic query which lays the foundations for a life commitment in relationship with God. Materials on the Prophets of the Old Testament, the Gifts of God, the Miracles of Jesus, and expanded presentations on Liturgy and Scripture can also be found in the Level III Atrium. (from the CGSUSA website)

What is the atrium really like? Many of you have had the opportunity to be in the atrium with the children either as a catechist, assistant or visiting parent. For those who haven’t yet had this opportunity, take a few minutes to watch this video ( from The National Association of CGS (CGSUSA). The voices of the current and former children of the atrium mirror many of the comments and reflections that our own catechists often hear from the children.

2024-2025 CGS CLASSES – There is a required parent meeting after the morning Masses on Sunday, September 8, at 11:30 am. Come and see your child’s Atrium (classroom), pick up important documents, and have any questions answered. The parent meeting will be offered at each campus: Ascension campus (Parish Center) and St. Giles campus (McDonough Hall).

All CGS sessions will begin the week of September 9, 2024.

Program offerings for CGS are listed below:

2024-2025 CGS – Ascension Campus – Parish Center

  • Sunday – 9:00 – 10:15 am – Level I, II and III
  • Tuesday – 5:00 – 6:15 pm – Level I and II
  • Wednesday – 4:30 – 5:45 pm – Level I, II and III

Ascension – 2024-2025 CGS Calendar (PDF)

2024-2025 CGS – Giles Campus – Parish Center

  • Tuesday – 4:15 pm – 5:30 and 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm – LEVEL II
  • Wednesday – 4:15 pm – 5:30 pm – LEVEL I, II and III / 6:00 – 7:15 pm – LEVEL II and III
  • Thursday – 4:15 – 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm – LEVEL II and III
  • Saturday – 10:00 am – 11:15 am – LEVEL I and II

St. Giles – 2024-2025 CGS Calendar (PDF)

Class Locations for Giles Campus

  • Level I and II – 2nd floor of Parish Center
  • Level III – Parish Center, Door N – Room 1

Please attend the location where your child is registered so you can see the exact CGS environment where your children will be throughout the year. Parents may attend with or without their children.

For information about our St. Giles Campus CGS Program, please contact Rachel Faulman at or 708-383-3430 x 401

For information about our Ascension Campus CGS Program, please contact Laura Kelley at or 708-848-2703.

Visit the National Association of CGS website at