Festival Weekend is always a wonderful thing to behold. We are glad it is here, and then, we are happy to have it completed. When we have done the Festival, we find that we are already at the half-way point of summer. Before we know it, we will be gearing up again for Fall and the bustle of activity that engages us. While the “lull” still continues, we need to be sure to take time to keep the long view in our sights.
“Life comes at you fast” is a famous expression. We use it to describe everything from the challenging experiences we have to face as individuals to the reality of watching our children grow up and move on with their own life’s journeys. As we admit this, the Church invites us at the same time to acknowledge that it is in our power to plan and make choices that can assist not only our own generation but the generations to come.
It is in this spirit that I continue my own journey of learning this week with the second half of training in the first level of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. As you may recall, I did the first half of the training last summer. There are three levels for the Catechesis, covering children from age 3 to age 12, with age-appropriate methods and materials. The training for the first level is a kind of “initiation” into the world and ways of this approach to opening up the “Mysteries of the Kingdom” to our children.
In my 33 years of priestly ministry, I have always been involved in the task of educating children. From my earliest years as Associate Pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Lancaster to the present, I have always spent time in the classroom as well as in church and other venues speaking to children about our Faith. That has given me a unique opportunity to observe methods of education at all levels. Over the past several years and now with more intentional study, I have seen the approach of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd up close. There is no doubt in my mind that this approach, which is used all over the world and by people of varied Christian denominations, has the potential to revitalize our families in their understanding of the Catholic Faith.
Locally, even though at the present time we have only one Atrium and have materials for levels one and two available (level three is in process), we have seen many fruits. Several families have made the decision to become Catholic because their children learned about the Sacraments through the Atrium. The children have shared wonderful insights with their parents and their catechists that deepen the adults’ own understanding of the Faith. Many of our high school students – who did not have the opportunity to be in an Atrium during their elementary years – have served as aides and are more excited than ever about the Faith due to what they have learned by working with the children in the Atrium.
If any of you are interested in learning about the approach of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the Diocese of Columbus will be offering training through the next academic year on Saturdays. I invite you to give it a try. Aides are always needed and that would give you an opportunity to see it up close. Parents and Grandparents of the children who attend Atrium sessions have many good things to say and stories to tell. Just ask them!
May we all learn to hear the voice of the Shepherd and be open to the new and greener pastures He is preparing for us.