By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
An intensive, hands-on week of training for leaders of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) formation program for children was held April 4-9 at St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Church in Saskatoon.
The training for Level One leaders – who facilitate the program for the youngest children, ages 3-6 – took place as the CGS “atriums” located at various churches in the Saskatoon area begin to consider re-opening after two years impacted by the global pandemic.
A CGS atrium is a carefully curated and prepared sacred space of materials that are integral part of the faith program for children – a space where “both the children and the catechists can hear, ponder, and celebrate the most essential mysteries of the Christian faith as revealed in the scriptures and the liturgy.”
In addition to the atrium at St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox parish, other CGS atriums have been established at St. Francis Xavier, St. Paul Co-Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Patrick parishes in Saskatoon, as well as at the “Trinite” pastoral region parishes at Prud’homme, Vonda and St. Denis. Representatives of a number of other churches in the province were among those taking the training.
The Level 1 course included offering guidelines and assistance in setting up an atrium for 3-6 year-old children, as well as exploring that age group’s general developmental and religious characteristics. The training also facilitated meditation upon the biblical and liturgical themes of the catechesis program, and worked “to deepen participants’ ability to observe and learn from children, while also exploring avenues for deepening parental and congregational ability to observe and learn from children.”
The two-person facilitation team for the training included Dr. Debbie Zeni, MD, MDiv (CGS), of Ontario, a nationally-known leader and trainer for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation program, and Linda Funk of St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Parish in Saskatoon, who was teaching her first course as a fully certified CGS formation facilitator. Funk is Saskatchewan’s first CGS formation facilitator, recently certified in both Canada and the USA.
Zeni has worked in several atria since 1992 and led courses across Canada and in Nairobi, Kenya. She was also a board member of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Canadian Association (CGSAC) for many years.
Inspired by the Montessori philosophy of childhood learning, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was originally developed some 65 years ago in Rome by Dr. Sofia Cavaletti and Gianna Gobbi. It continues to spread world-wide, and is used in various Christian traditions.
For more information about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd visit the Saskatoon CGS group’s website at https://saskcgs.carrd.co or contact Linda Funk at email@example.com or Cynthia Foster at (306) 955-4854.