What I did With My Summer Vacation

Simple by design, complex in its impact: Stanford students, young children and catechists alike flourish because of your support of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program

Why would anyone use their precious summer vacation time, leaving family behind, and enroll in a week’s worth of CGS religious training courses?

The catechists say it’s because they are getting back as much as they are giving.

 Catechist Emma, assists Level I children with learning through the CGS hands­on works, about the Mass parts, bible stories and their relationship with Jesus.

Catechist Emma, assists Level I children with learning through the CGS hands­on works, about the Mass parts, bible stories and their relationship with Jesus.

“It was the only religious education program that I found that truly treated children like capable spiritual beings, and gave them real information and theology in a truly age­ appropriate way. I am working towards becoming a CGS formation leader because I love that the adults who come through training feel like their spiritual needs are also being met: coming to the tradition through the eyes of a child is very rewarding.” —Anabel

Located at Stanford, an epicenter of innovation, CC@S chose to use a program that differentiated it from other parish children’s programs. For instance, children with special needs have been able to be a part of the CGS program with other children; something not possible for them in other parishes their parents say. “He has sensory issues and needs to physically touch and interact with things- and when he was three years old, workbooks and coloring did not work for him.“ CGS has afforded him the ability to learn and grow through the Montessori works. “It was an immediate and obvious fit. He could handle figurines of Mary and Gabriel, or the last supper, or the pearl merchant. He could pour wine and bread. And he could see amazing connections between the different things.”

CC@S also adapted the CGS programs which typically ends after Level III. CC@S has created a Level IV for Middle Schoolers. This level is set up with guest speakers who discuss more mature aspects of faith for instance, ethical choices in the fields of business, law medicine and public policy. Additionally, each Middle Schooler is paired up with a Stanford undergraduate student who mentors him/her. It’s a win-win for both Middle Schooler and Stanford student.

But it is the evidence of all of those experiences sinking deep into a child’s life and heart that really makes it all worth it. As catechist Elisabeth summed up, “The most rewarding thing for me is hearing from the parents about things their kids do outside of the atrium that are influenced by their time in the atrium. I love hearing about how a child gets really excited during the Gospel reading because they recognize a parable that we discussed in atrium or how a child will explain the meaning of some of the mass gestures or symbols of baptism to their parents during mass. It’s really thrilling to see that a child’s time in atrium has an effect on the rest of his life.”