VANCOUVER – An innovative program reorganized religious education at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Vancouver.
According to Fr. Eugenio Aloisio, since the parish has gone from a lecture hall to an interactive hall Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), the youngest Catholics in the Church were much more interested in their faith.
âI think this is the way of the future,â said Aloisio. âChildren these days learn in such different ways simply through 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 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.
The program has been adopted in many parishes across the country, including Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Edmonton.
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 17 children in Saint Francis of Assisireligious education course of. 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, it’s something that I think I bring to the school,â said Aloisio.
He admits that this would be a much more difficult feat, as many more CGS teachers would have to be trained.
The CGS is used in 21 classrooms across the Archdiocese. There are over 60 Level 1 (3-6 year olds) teachers in the Vancouver area, and at least a dozen who can also teach Level 2 (6-9 year olds) teachers. 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.
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 Sr. Xaviera Bilung, also 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 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 animator, of the child’s capacity for a deep and deep relationship with God, and therefore the child receives the space and the help to grow in this relationship in its own way and in God’s time, âBilung said.
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. “
Vancouver will host the CGS National Conference October 19-21.