HOW TO BEGIN:
Follow His Lead

Find an atrium in your neighborhood! Go see it!

If you want to make CGS connections, perhaps your DRE, your pastor, or school principal has heard of a nearby atrium to visit, or of an upcoming CGS event you could attend. You can also contact someone through the information provided on the national website page listing atria in Pennsylvania here or you can contact one of our local formation leaders. Here, I have tried to provide a simple list of atria in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

  • P.R.E.P. at St. Genevieve Parish in Flourtown, Sacred Heart in Royersford, St. Agnes Parish in W.Chester, Saint Maria Goretti in Hatfield, St. Joseph’s in Spring City;
  • Catholic parish schools: Our Mother of Consolation in Philadelphia, St. Agnes in W. Chester and Saint Andrew the Apostle in Drexel Hill;
  • Regina Schools: Regina Coeli in Abington, Regina Angelorum in Ardmore, and Regina Luminous Academy in Downingtown;
  • Homeschool communities: at Living Bridges (staff@livingbridges.org) and at JMJ Homeschool Co-op (meets at Czestochowa Shrine).
  • The Missionaries of Charity in Norristown and in Chester.

Although there may be some changes since this list was compiled, go here to see a list of the atria in PA that were submitted to the National Website. If you know of an atrium in the Philadelphia Archdiocese that is not on that list, or need extra help finding one, please let us know! Write to Betsy.

Next steps : Follow the Good Shepherd!

Buy a book to read! Here’s where to go for Introductory reading in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Or, to this article by Father Chris Aridas, “The Faith Formation of Children, Are We Asking the Right Questions?”

Gather a “Come and See” group for a tour of an existing atrium, attend an Atrium Open House or organize a “CGS Seed Planting” workshop in your parish or school.

Perhaps you want to explore being an assistant or catechist but want to observe in an atrium or talk with other catechists before making a decision. Let someone know! If you don’t know anyone in CGS ministry, write here to be directed.

Maybe you would like to assist in an atrium without becoming a catechist? Assistants are most welcome and both formal and informal training are available.

You can help this ministry by becoming a member of the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Anyone is invited to membership. Go here to read more.

Formation of catechists

The National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, with the International Consiglio, creates the guidelines for certification in CGS and certifies formation leaders to give them. Each Level course requires a commitment of 90 hours course time. It can be given in many different segments of time. The goals of the course are to give both practical help and theological background. The course requires reading, creation of a teacher album within the course, observation, practicing, and material making.

Before we can give this gift to a child, we must receive it ourselves. The course should reflect what it is like to be in the atrium. Each course day is like a mini-retreat. Consider taking the course for your own faith formation in spiritual childhood, or to become a catechist. Perhaps you have a sense of being called to be a catechist. Mother Teresa has some good advice: God does not call the capable. He equips the called.

Local formation courses for catechists

We currently (summer, 2015) have three CGS formation leaders whose home atria are in Catholic parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Another local formation leader has her home atria in an Episcopal Church where her husband is the pastor. Anyone is welcome to a CGS course. Listen for the Good Shepherd’s call.

For information on local courses, Go here. If you want to talk with someone as you search, you can call the national office or write Betsy with your contact information and questions.

Formation courses can be given where there is an atrium and a conference room, a formation leader, a course coordinator, and course participants! Certification for any Level course can be given only if the previous Level courses have been received already.

Discover how to help

Many of the atria already established need extra help, Perhaps you want to help by making wooden materials, or beautiful prayer cards with simple calligraphy for the atrium; maybe you have time to cut pieces for the altar or chasuble or baptism collages. Perhaps you would like to sponsor someone who needs financial help to take a course, or help buy books.

God bless your journey!

Jesus is risen (top left) and the joy reaches to the depths of the sea: "even the fish know about it" says the 6 year old who drew this picture.

Jesus is risen (top left): “even the fish know about it” says the 6 year old who drew this picture. The Hebrew word he colored and pasted to his drawing is “Hallelujah”!

Please share this good news with someone!