Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a catechetical program that brings children aged 3-12 deeper into the richness of the Catholic faith through activities specially designed to meet their developmental needs.
We talked with Dale Balkovec, who coordinates the CGS Ministry at St. Maurice parish, to learn more about the program and her experience with it.
How did you first get involved with CGS?
Dale: I first experienced CGS 18 years ago with my youngest son when I assisted at a small Montessori preschool operated by a trained catechist in her home. I was hooked! I completed my first formation course in August 2007. I currently serve in and coordinate the CGS Ministry at St. Maurice Parish, where we offer all three levels of CGS to almost 60 children weekly.
Is there anything particular about CGS that you love?
Dale: When most adults take the training to become a CGS catechist, we are drawn to do so for the sake of the children. What we discover as we experience the course and work with the children, and what I most love about CGS, is the surprise that this spirituality greatly blesses us also…we too grow and are formed more deeply by experiencing and contemplating our faith with childlike openness, wonder and joy.
Could you briefly share an example of what a CGS session might look like?
Dale: In Level 1 (3-6 yrs), each session will have a simple ritual of greeting and gathering; individual or small group presentations using hands-on materials crafted for themes such as practical life, scripture, liturgy, geography of the Incarnation; periods of “free work” when each child may choose to work with any materials which have already been presented to them; a time to gather as a group for prayer, song, silence; a simple leaving ritual. New themes and developmentally appropriate approaches and materials unfold in Levels 2 (6-9 years) and 3 (9-12 years).
If someone wants to get involved with CGS as a participant, what is their best next step?
Dale: Families across the country can check out the CGS website to identify locations for CGS nearby. In our diocese, there are six parishes in the Ottawa region that have a CGS atrium (the space where CGS is offered). Contact can be made through these individual parishes:
· Holy Redeemer/Holy Spirit joint atrium located at Holy Spirit
· St. Maurice
· Blessed Sacrament
· Good Shepherd
· Annunciation of the Lord
· Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
If someone wants to get involved with CGS as a leader, what is their best next step?
Dale: I would recommend contacting a catechist at a parish that offers CGS. They can speak with you in greater depth about the CGS and perhaps arrange for you to observe or volunteer in an atrium. To be certified as a CGS catechist, you must complete a formation course offered through our association. In Ottawa this summer we will begin a new course for formation in Level 1 CGS, July 13-18 and for Level 2 CGS, August 15-22. A complete list of courses across the country is available on the website.