St. John Neumann Parish

About Good Shepherd

When Is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) Offered for Children?

CGS is offered for Preschool through Grade 6 children weekly from September through early May. Each session is 1½ hours, with various days and times offered. The children gather in a specially prepared environment called an "atrium." You can search for days and times in the

During a winter “inter-session,” there are no atrium sessions for four weeks. Instead, Good Shepherd families gather weekly for Family Mass, during which children participate in liturgical ministries and gather around the priest for a children’s homily. We also end the catechetical year with a Family Mass.


How Do I Register My Child?

Click for Registration Materials

Where Does My Child Belong?

CGS is designed so that the child will spend two to three years in each level. Each week the catechist presents a new lesson. The most essential information is presented in the first year, with additional information or a deeper meditation on the same work added in years two or three. Materials that parallel the child's development are also added for the older children's work.

  • Level I - Preschool (child will turn 3 by September 1) and Kindergarten
  • Level II - Grades 1 & 2
  • Level III Transition - Grades 3 & 4
  • Level III - Grades 5 & 6
What are the Benefits?

In the atrium, children fall in love with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, forming the basis for a life-long relationship with God. This relationship is lived in the fullness of the Church community, strengthened by the liturgy and sacraments, and sustained by a profound reverence for Scripture. Children learn and live the central mysteries of our faith.

How Does this Happen in Level I?
  • The children see presentations on the altar, the vestments, and gestures of the Mass; they then have the opportunity to work with materials that reinforce what they have learned. They start to pay attention at Mass, noticing what color the priest is wearing and what he is doing at different points of the Mass.
  • The children listen to and meditate on the parables, and especially love the parable of the Good Shepherd. They know that the Good Shepherd knows them and loves them, cares for them, and calls them by name.
  • The program follows the liturgical year to help the child learn the mysteries of the Catholic faith. During Advent, they learn about the geography of the land where Jesus was born, Old Testament prophecies of a Savior, and scriptural accounts of the events surrounding Jesus' birth. During Lent and Easter Season, we introduce scriptural accounts of Jesus' passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Spirit.
  • Every session includes communal prayer time, with songs and spontaneous prayer offered by the children.
How Does this Happen in Level II?
  • When children are six or seven, and begin to make moral decisions, they realize that sometimes they fail to answer the Good Shepherd's call, but that the shepherd always calls them back with love, and that they can be reconciled through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. New parables - including the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son - are introduced to show God's forgiveness and mercy. They also learn "maxims," directives taken from Jesus' teachings, to show us how to live in God's world.
  • As the children prepare for First Communion, they continue to learn about the Mass, and synthesize much of what they have already learned. They hear presentations that explain how the Good Shepherd calls all his sheep to the Eucharistic table. They also learn about the relationship of the Last Supper to the Eucharist we celebrate today in the Mass.
  • The children learn a new image - that Jesus is the True Vine and that they are branches on that vine. God the Father tends the vine and the sap of the Holy Spirit runs through it, nourishing and strengthening us as we grow and mature.
  • Synthesizing the prayers and gestures learned in Level I, children become familiar with the order of the essential moments of the Mass.
How Does this Happen in Level III Transition?
  • The Level III Transition atrium focuses on reverence for the Holy Bible as God's living Word. Children become familiar with the organization and content of the Books of the Bible.
  • Themes from Level I and II, such as geography, history, prophecies, ritual, and parables, are expanded in the Level III T atrium. Those themes are then related to the way we see God's presence all around us.
  • Children plan communal prayer time each week, using Scripture verses, songs from the hymnal, and images of God found in art. They also offer spontaneous prayers of thanksgiving and petition.
How Does this Happen in Level III?
  • Building on everything that has gone before, the children now are introduced to the Plan of God. This work weaves together the development of civilization from prehistoric times to the present within the context of salvation history. Through their own meditation and Bible work, the children seek their place in this Plan and the responsibility we have individually and globally.
  • Community becomes an essential part of our prayer and discussion. We use the ritual of sacraments to connect ourselves with the universal mission of the Church.
  • The Bible is explored from a historical perspective. Basic themes of creation, exodus, redemption, and parousia are viewed through the actions of Old Testament people and events. These events prefigure the mystery of Christ that we see in the New Testament.
  • Journals are essential. They provide a private reflection.
  • Service is encouraged through the outreach of St. John Neumann, and is related to a more in-depth reflection on the maxims and the Ten Commandments.
How Are Catechists Trained?
  • Catechists participate in a formation course that includes 90 hours of instruction (including time observing in an atrium) for Level I, 90 more for Level II, and 120 additional hours for Level III. The Diocese awards catechist certification to a catechist who has completed Level I CGS formation.
  • Good Shepherd catechists are also expected to complete a course in Morality offered by the Diocese of Pittsburgh..
  • All catechists must complete Diocese of Pittsburgh Safe Environment requirements. Click HERE for Necessary Forms.
What Would Be My First Step to Become a Catechist?
  • Catechist formation courses for those interested in working with Level I, II or III children are offered periodically at St. John Neumann and in neighboring cities and states. If you are not sure whether you are being called to become a catechist but are looking for a unique retreat-like faith enrichment experience, find out what this training could offer you.

For more information, call Kelly Reed at x16

Top of Page