The Gatekeeper
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Level I 
October 20, 2009 - Level 1, Issue 02
In This Issue
The Good Shepherd
On Presenting Parables
The Eucharistic Presence
Celebrating Mass Together
Presentation Schedule
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Dear CGS Level I Parent,   
The Good Shepherd
This marks our second Atrium session.  As you read in the first newsletter, the Level I Atrium offers the time, space, and opportunity for the child to fall in love with God through Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
This week, the youngest Level I children will receive a presentation on the parable of the Good Shepherd.  When the parable is first presented to children, it can take time for the child to understand that we are the sheep.  It is very important for the catechist (and parents) to provide the time and silence for the child to come to this realization on their own (or through interaction with other children in the Atrium).  Older Level I children will receive a more advanced presentation this week called The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd.  Please read the section below that is appropriate to your child.
The Level I catechist team:
   Betsy Peterson, Martha Garcia Barragan on Tues.
   Kathy Murdock, Donny Wallenfang on Wed.
   Anne Edwards, Sylvia Pelini, Erin Walsh on Thurs.
and Lina Hilko (editor)
The Good Shepherd
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd initiates the child's relationship with the Father through his Son.  We can read in John 14:6 Jesus' words, "No one can come to the Father except through me."  Thus, the central element of the proclamation CGS gives to the youngest children is through the parable-allegory of the Good Shepherd found in John 10:1-18.
The complete parable is presented gradually over the course of the three years of Level I, with specific portions being provided at appropriate times, based on the child's readiness for the various pieces of the proclamation.  Parents may read over the entire citation, but they should know that in reality this parable unfolds in a careful manner.  (Specifically, the hired hand and the wolf aren't presented to the youngest children.)  The youngest children will receive just the following passages:  John 10: 3(b) - 5, 10(b) - 11, 14 - 16.  The catechist would open by saying something like, "Jesus talked about being the Good Shepherd.  I'll read his words from the Bible."

The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

The Level I children can meditate further on the parable of the Good Shepherd by working with manipulative material.  The materials include a beautiful stone sheepfold, two-dimensional wooden models of sheep, and a two-dimensional wooden model of the Good Shepherd. 
On Presenting Parables
One of the harder things a catechist must do is to stop themselves from interpreting, explaining, or defining parables - to simply proclaim and facilitate the children's joyful discovery of meaning and purpose.  Parables speak uniquely to each individual.  The same parable can provide a different message at different points in one person's life.  But the power of a parable can only work within a person if the catechist humbly steps down and leaves space and silence.  Parents, too, must respect, with faith, the slow work of the Holy Spirit in their child.
The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd
Jesus is present with us in many ways; yet, the Mass is the place and time in which we meet Jesus in a particular way.  Jesus calls each of us by name.  We gather around his altar to be fed by Jesus' very self in a special way.  The presentation of the Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd provides the child with a link between the Good Shepherd's presence in our lives, which they have already received through the parable, and the special presence of the Good Shepherd in the Mass.
In this presentation, there will be a new sheepfold.  Rather than the little stone fence on a green, circular wooden base, the sheepfold will now be a green felt circle.  On the circle, we place a small model of an altar covered with a white cloth.  On the altar, we place a very small two-dimensional wooden model of the Good Shepherd.  From The Religious Potential of the Child (pg. 81) by Sofia Cavalletti, founder of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we can read the types of words the catechist uses as they bring the wooden models of sheep around the altar:  "The Good Shepherd calls each of His sheep by name to come close to Him around His altar and one by one the sheep assemble around the altar.  Now they are near to Him once again, in another sheepfold which we call the 'church,' a fold where we too go when Mass is celebrated.  Here the Good Shepherd's presence has a totally special character.  He is really there for me, to give Himself completely to me.  The Shepherd's presence is not tied to the little wooden statue; this is only a way to help us think of Him.  At Mass the Good Shepherd is present in the signs of the bread and wine.  (At this point we place the models of the chalice and paten on the altar.)  We can even take away the statue (we remove the Good Shepherd figure from the altar); it does not change anything with regard to the life-giving presence of our Shepherd."
The presentation can end right here.  However, for older children, the presentation can go further to replace the models of sheep with two-dimensional wooden models of people.  And so in this way, we help the child synthesize the parable and the liturgical moment.
Celebrating Mass Together
[This article is repeated in all three Levels of newsletters.]  One of the most important ways we grow in relationship with God is through the celebration of mass.  So, we seek to organize opportunities for families (children and parents) in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to come together as a small, intimate community to celebrate mass once or twice a year.  Such a mass will be held on Thursday, November 19th in the final half of our Atrium time.  Families whose children attend Atrium on days other than Thursday are invited to come to Thursday Atrium that week in order to also enjoy mass.  If you cannot come on Thursday, then please continue to attend on your regular Atrium day as Catechesis will meet each of the regular days that week.  Stay tuned for more details, but please make note of this special mass now.
Presentation Schedule
The complete schedule of presentations planned for the 2009/2010 catechetical year are:
Session/Date          Presentation
   1    10/6-8           Orientation to Atrium
                             Bible in the Prayer Corner
   2    10/20-22       1st Yrs:  The Good Shepherd
                             2+ Yrs:  The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd
   3    11/3-5           Altar 1 and 2
   4    11/17-19       Preparation of the Cruets
                             On 11/19:  Mass
Advent begins 11/29
   5    12/1-3           Puzzle Map of the Land of Israel
                             Prophesy of the Virgin
   6    12/15-17       Visitation by Mary to Elizabeth
Christmas season 12/25 - 1/10/09
   7    1/5-7             Prophesy of the Names
   8    1/19-21         Psalm 23, vs 1-3
   9    2/2-4             [TBD]
Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent) 2/17
   10  2/16-18          Epiclesis and Offering
   11  3/2-4             Sign of the Cross and Triple Cross
   12  3/16-18         City of Jerusalem
Palm Sunday is 3/28
Easter is 4/4 (Easter Season is 4/4 - 5/22)
   13  4/6-8             Empty Tomb
   14  4/20-22          Preparation of the Chalice
   15  5/4-6             Hidden Treasure
   16  5/18-20          Pentecost Celebration
Pentecost is 5/23
Feel free to comment on this information to Lina Hilko,, the editor and/or Sarah Coles,, St. Teresa's Director of Religious Education.  Thanks!