Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
- An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, all the more so when that relationship is between God and the child with special needs. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw nearer to God. The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to give selected presentations from scripture and liturgy that “call forth” the child’s response rather than “pours in” information. The catechist listens with the child and together they ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?” Catechists receive in-depth training in to how best serve the spiritual needs of every child.
- The Atrium (or prepared environment) is one of the elements that helps the relationship between God and the child to flourish. The atrium can be compared to a retreat house facilitating recollection and silence. The atrium is a place of meaningful work through which the child can have a conversation with God. This environment has shown a great capacity to serve many children with various disabilities.
- The materials in the atrium are often three-dimensional wood representations of a particular scripture or are items that represent what can be found in Baptism or Eucharist. They are attractively displayed and invite the children to explore and deepen their experience of the presentation at their own rhythm and with in their own capacities and abilities. The most important characteristic of the materials is their close link to the biblical and liturgical sources. The shelves might include maps of Israel and miniature environments representing the elements of the parables or the historical events from the infancy or paschal narratives that have been shown to satisfy the spiritual needs of the child. The model altar and its articles convey the centrality of the Eucharist. The Baptismal font and other liturgical items initiate the child into the liturgical life of the church. The materials help make the child to more deeply enter into reflection and prayer at their own pace and rhythm.
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