Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS)

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS)

Would you and your child like help to enjoy a deeper relationship with God?

From September to June, our parish offers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) to children aged 3 – 12 years old. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a religious education program rooted in Sacred Scripture, Liturgy, and respect for the child’s rich relationship with God that uses the Montessori approach towards children, with materials. The material consists of concrete “signs” of a transcendent reality. The work prepared for the children at each level corresponds to the inner needs of the child according to their developmental age. There is a progression of themes in the program that will give your child an overview of The Life of the Church. 

CGS has been called the meeting of two mysteries: the mystery of God and the mystery of the child. Its focus is on the personal relationship of Jesus, who is the fullest manifestation of the mystery of God, and the child. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows and calls His sheep by name to a life-long journey of growth and transformation.  While CGS has its roots in the work and educational principles of Maria Montessori, its development, as we know it today, began in Rome in 1954 with Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi.

2023-24 registration is currently closed.

Atrium Level 1  (3-6 yr olds)

Monday mornings (Sept 25 – April 29) and Saturday mornings (Oct 14 – May 4)

10:00 – 11:30am

Introductory sessions will be held on September 16, 18, and 23 from 10 – 11am for children who are not familiar with the Atrium, or need a little extra reassurance with parents present.

Atrium Level 2 (6-9 yr olds)

Tuesday afternoons (Sept 19 – April 30)

4:30 – 6:15pm

Atrium Level 3 (9 – 12 yr olds)

Monday afternoons (Sept 18 – April 29)

4:30 – 6:00pm

Family Donation

$100 one child, $150 two children, $200 three or more children.

Please make checks payable to Annunciation of the Lord Parish or you can send an email transfer to  Please put CGS and your child’s first & last name in the memo.  If financial assistance is needed, please ask.

General Guidelines and Information

We are a volunteer run organization and are always looking for other adults who are interested in assisting and training to volunteer in the atriums with the children, and (if this year allows it) to organize a Christmas pageant, Stations of the Cross,  and/or an Easter Vigil service.  

In the event that a catechist can’t run a session due to a family matter another catechist may replace her, however we need to cancel you will be notified by email and/or phone as soon as we know. Sessions may be re-scheduled if needed.

CGS will follow the Ottawa Catholic School Board for the Bus schedule for Snow Days. If the buses do not run that day, we will not have our Atrium.

Please be aware that we will make every effort to place your child in the group you chose; however due to numbers and registrations we might have to do some re-arranging for group size and dynamics. 

Parents are expected to drop off and pick up their children inside the Church.  Please be respectful and considerate by being on time. Children are not allowed to leave the building or climb the tree outside the Parish while they are under the care of a CGS catechist.

Parents are obliged to let the catechist team know if their child has a special need before registering. Catechists are not trained to assist special needs children, however we are willing to work with our families to find possibilities and solutions.

Additional Questions?  

Please contact Jen Ward at

More Info

Why is it called “atrium” anyway? The word “atrium” actually means “portico, or porch entrance to a large house.” The Atrium was a term given to this space by Maria Montessori. It was chosen because in the ancient church, the atrium was a gathering space between the Church Proper and the street. It was the place where the catechumens, those preparing for initiation to the Church, would receive instruction. The Atrium has a similar purpose for our children, as it is a place to help them enter into full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgical and communal life of the Church.

What is a “prepared environment”? The prepared environment is a Montessori concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate independent learning by the child. In a prepared environment, children work with materials of their own choice and at their own pace. They experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline in a place especially prepared to meet their developmental and spiritual needs.

“The atrium may be compared to a retreat house; as such it should be a place that facilitates recollection and silence, even in its external aspects of wall decorations and other furnishings. It is desirable that the atrium be “Mass-centered,” that is, a place where special prominence is awarded to the material relative to the Mass; a place where the baptismal font stands out in the area assigned to Baptism. The Gospel should have a position of honor and be located alongside the parable materials and materials relating to the historical life of Christ.” – Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavalletti, p 56