An innovative program reorganized religious education at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Vancouver.
According to Father Eugenio Aloisio, since the parish went from a lecture hall to an interactive hall Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the younger Catholics in the church were much more interested in their faith.
âI think this is the way of the future,â said Father Aloisio. âChildren these days learn in such different ways simply because of the use of mass media and technology. “
He traded in the parish’s PREP program with CGS after hearing about it at a priests study day nearly two years ago, and he hasn’t looked back.
âIn the old program, there was a teacher in front of the class reviewing the content of the book. Then they would be made redundant, âsaid Father Aloisio.
With CGS, children are invited to explore child-sized versions of real items they might see at Mass, such as a miniature altar, baptismal font, Easter candle, or tabernacle, in a Montessori-inspired classroom.
âIt motivates children at their level to enter the liturgy or to understand the liturgical year or the different elements of the sacraments,â said the pastor.
âIt goes from passive retention of catechism to an active process by which children can claim catechism as their own. “
There are currently 17 children in the religious education classes of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is a relatively small number (most of the children in the ward attend St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School), which made the transition easier.
âSeeing how well it went at the parish, this is something I think I will bring to the school,â said Father Aloisio. He admits it would be a much more difficult feat: many more CGS teachers would need to be trained.
The CGS is used in 21 classrooms across the Archdiocese. There are over 60 Level 1 (3-6 years) teachers in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and at least a dozen who can also teach Level 2 (6-9 years).
Level 3 is intended for 9-12 year olds, but according to coordinator Murita Chua, only teachers who have completed level 1 can advance to level 2, then 3, which makes the training process tedious.
Chua herself is in training to become the Archdiocese’s first teacher trainer, and will become so next year. Then she will be certified to train new teachers for Vancouver herself, instead of importing trainers from out of town and paying their travel costs, as she does now.
It’s not just the kids who are inspired by this program. Nuns, deacons, and lay people study CGS to teach religious education, but like Sister Xaviera Bilung, MC, find it personally rewarding.
âGood Shepherd catechesis has proven to be very effective because it allows the child to meet Christ, the Good Shepherd, in a very concrete and personal way,â said Sister Bilung, a missionary of charity living in Vancouver.
âIt is centered on the essential: human formation, the Word of God and the liturgy. He catechizes the heart; it motivates; it attracts. “
She said being a class leader requires her to deepen her faith.
âThere is an awareness, on the part of the facilitator, of the child’s capacity for a deep and deep relationship with God, and therefore the child receives space and help to grow in this. relationship in its own way and in God’s time, said Sister Bilung.
âFacilitators should also give space and time for our personal relationship with Almighty God, for what we share is meant to be the overflow of our union with God into silence, study, prayer and recollection. liturgy. “
CGS appears to be gaining momentum in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Another level 2 training session will take place on October 14, followed by a
the very first national conference of the CGS in Vancouver October 19-21.
The annual conference will attract catechism teachers from across Canada, including those involved in the Liturgy of the Word with Children, PREP and the Rite of Christian Initiation.