Catechesis of the Good Shepherd dinner welcomes US visitors to Floreat Wembley parish
By Caroline Smith
A recent gathering at Floreat Wembley Parish welcomed two visiting members of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for a dinner and discussion about this unique style of faith formation for children.
More than 80 people attended the event on Friday 18 June, which was held at St Cecilia’s parish hall and included presentations by US catechists Linda Kaeil and Rebekah Rojcewicz, as well as Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton and Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Christian formation process for children aged three to 12 years, which includes scriptural and liturgical study framed by the Montessori’s educational approach.
The learning experiences take place in an ‘atrium’, a sacred space of worship which is prepared for children by supportive adults.
Perth catechist Anne Diamond, who helped to organise the event, said it had been inspired by a significant anniversary of the movement in Australia.
“The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd first came to Australia 20 Years ago,” Ms Diamond said.
“The Emmanuel community in Brisbane brought out a catechist from the US, Linda Kaeil, to present and form a group of people in this unique form of evangelisation for children,” she said.
“During one of her visits, Linda included Perth on her itinerary and began training a group of people here. That was in 2001 and when I started on this amazing journey.
“With time and experience behind us, three of the fully trained catechists in Perth have gone on to become formation leaders – that is, we provide training to others who wish to deepen their faith for their own benefit, or to go on and create an atrium in their own parish.”
The three Perth-based catechists are Ms Diamond, Veronika Metcalf and Marie Fernandez, and there are three ‘atria’ within the Archdiocese – at North Beach parish, Fremantle parish and in Morley.
Ms Diamond said the dinner had been well-attended, with guests including people from Catholic Education WA (CEWA), Notre Dame University and the Archdiocesan Office, plus priests, deacons, catechists and some Catholic primary school teachers from various Perth parishes, together with parents whose children attend various atria.
She added that attendees seemed inspired by the presentations by visiting catechists.
“After dinner, Rebekah explained the origins of the Catechesis. In order to unveil the style and the uniqueness of the work, she presented the central parable for young children – the Good Shepherd, and the way it is linked to an understanding of the Eucharistic Presence,” Ms Diamond said.
“Linda offered some reflection on how the catechesis can operate in a primary school, as she is involved in an atrium at a Catholic elementary school in Portland Oregon.
“People who had not previously been exposed to the Catechesis were deeply moved by the presentations. Several expressed to me revelations about delivering catechism in a different method being a game changer and could see how it would be life giving to the catechist as well as the children.
“One parent commented how she could see the approach could help her with her son in everyday life, apart from time spent in the atrium itself.”