Preschool & Elementary


Contact Debbie Buckstiegel for information. debbie@saginawhsp.org or (989) 781-3330

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children, ages 3–12. It is the result of a long period of careful observation of children by Sofia Cavalletti and her Montessori collaborator, Gianna Gobbi, in Rome. It began quiet by accident. In 1954, Sofia, a Hebrew and Scripture scholar was comfortable in her role in the academic world. However, a mother asked Sofia to give some instructions to her son. Eventually, Sofia agreed to the mother’s desire and this experience with a 7 year old changed Sofia’s whole life. She saw in that child and in many children since a way of being in the presence of God that is unique to the child and a gift to the adult who takes time to notice. Sofia and Gianna remind us to look to the child and to watch for the sign of deeply religious life—joy.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd soon spread to diverse social environments, and since 1969, to many different countries and cultures as well. It is in at least 35 countries; Australia, Austria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Serbia/Bosnia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Uruguay, and the United States. There are hundreds of atria in the U.S. in Catholic and Episcopal settings as well as several other churches.

We Believe
  • That God and the child have a unique relationship with one another; particularly before the age of six.
  • That the growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child.
  • That children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship.
  • That the child’s spiritual growth is best served through tangible but indirect mean.
The Prepared Environment/The Atrium
Children gather in an “atrium”, a room prepared for them, which contains simple yet beautiful materials that they use.
  • The atrium can be compared to a retreat house which facilitates recollection and silence.
  • The atrium is a place for religious life, for community and worship-not a classroom for instruction.
  • The atrium is a place of work which becomes a conversation with God.
  • The atrium was the place in the early Church where catechumens were prepared. The atrium is a place of preparation for involvement in the larger worshiping community.
The Materials
The materials are attractively displayed which invites the children to explore and deepen experiences at their own pace.  The materials include dioramas of essential Scriptures such as the infancy stories and parable.  Small replicas of the altar, the sacred vessels and vestments used in the Eucharist invite the children to learn in a hand-on way the signs, symbols and gestures of the Liturgy.  The materials are closely linked to biblical and liturgical sources.

For the Young Child (Ages 3-6)
The 3-6 year old child is particularly capable of receiving and enjoying the most essential elements of our faith—the announcement of God’s love, in the person of the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen.  The 3-6 year old child responds with great joy when allowed to discover—at his/her own pace, the love of the Good Shepherd for his sheep.  The goal of this age level 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.

Preschool is offered one Saturday per month.
K - 1st grade is offered Monday 6:15 - 7:30 or Tuesday 4:15 - 5:30