Religious Education of Children
In addition to religious education at Nativity School, Nativity Parish offers faith formation experiences for children ages 3 through 12:
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) Level 1 ages 3 – 6, Level 2 ages 6 – 9 and Breaking Open the Word (BOW) for ages 9 – 12
CGS originated in Italy over 50 years ago and has spread throughout the world. In many countries, in many settings, children come to spend time with God in a specially prepared environment called an Atrium. The original Atrium was so named because in ancient times, those preparing for full participation in the life of the church received their instruction at the entrance of a church in a space called an atrium. Nativity’s Atrium for children ages 3 through 9 is in the Parish Office Lower Level. The child-sized furnishings and materials in Atrium appeal to children. They come eagerly to spend time with God.
Atrium sessions last ninety minutes. We begin with singing and a procession. A group presentation is followed by an invitation to work. Arranging flowers, caring for plants, preparing the cruets and chalice, setting the model altar, preparing the prayer table, polishing, drawing: the children offer these works of their hands to God. Through celebrating the liturgical seasons and feasts in a hands-on way, children sense a joyful and deep relationship with God.
BOW is designed for children ages 9 – 12. Children at this age are very group-oriented, so much of the work is done in a communal setting. Music and prayer mark the opening and closing times. The lessons are based in part on the Scripture readings proclaimed at Sunday liturgy with a stronger emphasis on this during the special seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. There is increased emphasis on learning the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) at this age since this helps in understanding Jesus and his messages to us about God.
Atrium and BOW include sacramental preparation. Close to First Communion and to celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation, we offer a retreat to spend time appreciating God’s invitation to us to live more fully in the love of Christ.
Atrium sessions start at the beginning of October and go through mid-May, with holiday breaks announced to registered families. Level 1 sessions are held on Sundays from 8:45 to 10:15 or Thursdays 9:30 to 11:00. Level 2 and BOW sessions are held Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:00. Level 2 classes are held in the basement Atrium. BOW takes place on the second floor of the Parish Office building where the furniture and materials are appropriate to the growth of 9 to 12 year olds. Please be prompt to give children the full benefit of their time in these sessions.
For more information on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd or BOW contact coordinator Mary Lennard at (513) 531-7572.