Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children, 3-12 years of age. It originated in 1954 with the founding of the children’s center or “atrium” in Rome by Sofia Cavalletti, a biblical scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, an educator of children and teachers. Inspired by Montessori principles of education, the catechesis is based on the conviction that God and the child are already in relationship.

The goal of Level One (ages 3-6) of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is to help the child enjoy and be in love with God, first proclaimed as Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Such a relationship is the strongest possible foundation for life-long spiritual growth and moral living.

Children hear the Gospel by working with sensorially rich, but simple materials, keyed to scriptural or liturgical moments. Central to this program is the Atrium, a sacred space prepared for the children. A place of beauty, the atrium is designed for being with and enjoying God, listening to God’s Word, and praying.

Implementation of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd requires training for adults at each level or age group: Level One focuses on children ages 3-6. The training course features 90 hours of lectures, participation in discussions, lesson presentations, and assistance with preparing materials and the catechist’s album.

St. Mary Parish is grateful for the presence of Sr. Nancy Ayotte IHM, a catechist of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. A catechist is one who shares the Gospel by personal witness and by teaching the doctrines of the Church. Sr. Nancy comes to us with having served many years in this role. The donation of her time, talent and treasures is a gift to our parish as we continue to offer this pre-school faith formation opportunity.She meets regularly with the children in grades K-3 from St. Mary Grade School.

Sr. Nancy Ayotte is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan. She holds a M.Div. and a M.R.E. Sr. Nancy has been involved with religious education on all levels since 1965 and is in her thirteenth year as a catechist of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She is trained in all three levels by those who studied under Sofia Cavalletti and is a recognized formation leader from the National Office of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd ( She has given courses in the Saginaw diocese, Detroit, South Africa and was instrumental in establishing over 30 Atriums. For further information: Sr. Nancy Ayotte IHM (734) 240-8234 or








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