Fundraising raffle

As our next lot of training approaches, it’s time for a spot of fundraising to make sure we can pay for it! This won’t just benefit our atrium – it’ll also help us subsidise trainees who can’t afford to pay for themselves and aren’t being sponsored by their parish/school.

We are running a raffle with some pretty sweet prizes (pretty sure it’s not just us that’ll think that!) and would LOVE your support. You can also just donate a small amount if you’d prefer.

Follow this link or fill in the form below to buy tickets and share with anyone who likes free stuff and/or would want to support CGS.

Here are details on the 8 prizes. Please note that a couple are only available within Hamilton, but these can be gifted to friends/family if the winner doesn’t live here, or donated to someone in our parish who needs a helping hand!

Thank you for your support!

enjo-mary

                                           Find out about ENJO          Visit Rosa Mystica online                                    

 

Kete article – how we started

I haven’t figured out how to insert the Kete Korero (Hamilton Diocese magazine) in here, but we had an article in there last issue. Below is the text.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St Pius X Parish, Hamilton

Last year while Fr Gerard was walking across Spain, a lovely Jesuit priest from Australia looked after St Pius X parish for a few weeks. I was talking to him one day after Mass, and mentioned that my boys were at a Montessori preschool. He asked if I’d ever heard about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I hadn’t.

Google to the rescue.

I was blown away by what I found.

Over the year my eldest son had been at Montessori, I had come to really appreciate the distinctive nature of Montessori education. I loved that it was based on years of observation by Maria Montessori of how children learn and what they are capable of. I loved that this observation continued in the classroom and each child was respectfully treated as an individual person with individual needs and capabilities. I loved that the children could work, learn, and see to their physical needs independently (yes! from age three and even younger) because the environment was set up perfectly to allow that. I loved the three year age groupings, chosen according the planes of development the children were in and allowing them to learn from and teach each other. I loved the order and serenity of the classroom. I loved that the children learnt not just maths and language and geography, but grace and courtesy and practical life skills too. Basically I loved it all and considered it to be a beautiful method of enabling the human person to flourish on (almost) all levels from a very young age.

There was, however one area of learning where it was up to my husband and me alone, with no help from the school: the Faith. This was something that was not going smoothly with our 2 and 4 year olds. They weren’t the type to like to join in things and got self conscious (or just silly) during Mass and prayer times. Picture books were some use, but limited. Trying to explain abstract concepts was futile since their brains were not yet capable of abstraction. When I discovered Catechesis of the Good Shepherd I knew I had finally found the answer to helping young children form a relationship with God and I wondered if we would ever have access to it.

I went back to google. I searched for atria in Hamilton. Unsurprisingly, nothing. I couldn’t find much else in New Zealand either (I’ve since learned of more but they were not easy to find!). Then I had a conversation with two mums who were also planning on sending their children to our Montessori preschool and they mentioned there was an atrium at St Mary’s in Tauranga, and how wonderful would it be for us to have access to one too.

At this stage we had no plans to set up an atrium, but I wanted to know more. I searched for books on the topic and found “The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in a Parish Setting” on fishpond.co.nz for $5. In January of 2014 I went away for a week, read the book and did a lot of praying, and came home convinced we needed to start the Catechesis in our parish. I just had no idea how.

To set up an atrium, one needs to attend officially sanctioned training and get a manual with all the instructions on how to make what. It is possible to start without doing this, but it would be very difficult to implement the programme faithfully and in a way the children would get the most benefit. It seemed there was training in Australia occasionally, and plenty in the US, but those didn’t seem like options. Eventually I found out about training being run by an Anglican parish in Dunedin in June/July.

I approached Fr Gerard, who was very supportive of the idea, and once the parish council had approved it I tried to convince people to go to the training. I assumed I couldn’t, due to having a tiny baby. But no one was interested, so after lots more prayer and correspondence with the trainer, we decided I would go to Dunedin for the 3-6 age group portion of the training and the trainer would come back to Hamilton in January 2015 to train more people and give us enough to start up with the 6-9 age group also.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2015 and we have a wonderful committee of 4 (sadly one other had to leave Hamilton for work reasons) mums who have been working extremely hard to put everything together to run the training at the end of January and start atrium sessions shortly afterwards. A few other parishioners have also signed up to train as catechists and there has been some other involvement from the parish, but we’d love more. An extremely generous carpenter in Putaruru has made items proportioned to small children – an altar, a baptismal font, a sacristy cabinet, a lectern, a tabernacle, and a model of the City of Jerusalem. The atrium is very slowly taking shape and we will continue to add to it as the liturgical year progresses, and probably for several more years to come.

You can follow our progress on our website: cgsstpiusxhamilton.wordpress.com or facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cgsstpiusx

Below is an outline of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS)

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a formation process for children aged 3-12 years. It is grounded in scriptural and liturgical study using the Montessori principles as a tangible, yet indirect self-teaching method used for Christian developed by Dr Sofia Cavalletti and Dr Gianna Gobbi since 1954.

The Catechesis is based on the principle that the child desires to draw near to God. The process allows children to hear the Gospel through the use of sensorially rich materials. The children are free to work with these materials that represent essential proclamations of the Christian message.

The adult’s task is to prepare the sacred space for children, called ’the atrium’, so they can respond to this holy relationship, first proclaimed to them through Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Themes are offered in such a way as to develop the religious potential present in every child.

Our first session!

After a lot of work we finally got there! We’ve had our first session, and it went extremely well. A couple of the children were really shy but had mostly settled in by the end, one was not in the mood at all, one or two others had their moments, but on the whole they seemed to really enjoy it and behaved very well.

Lucia was the catechist for this session and did a wonderful job – so good at keeping a straight face too!

After being shown how to walk and talk in the atrium, the children took a seat and took turns practising walking and carrying chairs.

After being shown how to walk and talk in the atrium, the children took a seat and took turns practising walking and carrying chairs.

Then they were taken on a tour of the atrium.

Then they were taken on a tour of the atrium.

Taking a good look at the altar area.

Taking a good look at the altar area.

Then there was the introduction to the prayer table, with a consideration of some short Scripture passages.

Then there was the introduction to the prayer table, with a consideration of some short Scripture passages.

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Then the children were free to draw about what they had heard (or totally unrelated stuff...) and work with the preliminary works.

Then the children were free to draw about what they had heard (or totally unrelated stuff…) and work with the preliminary works.

One is drawing hospitals and sharks and killer whales (!?) and the other, Noah's ark.

One is drawing hospitals and sharks and killer whales (!?) and the other, Noah’s ark.

And the session ended with a short prayer. Some of the children got to take turns putting out the candle while they were waiting for the others.

And the session ended with a short prayer. Some of the children also got to take turns putting out the candle while they were waiting for everyone else to put away their work.

Training highlights

We covered a lot in our training, but here are a few photos of some of the presentations.

Getting ready for the procession to the prayer table to change the cloth from the green of the time of growth to the purple of waiting. This procesion is done at the start of Advent.

Getting ready for the procession to the prayer table to change the cloth from the green of the time of growth to the purple of waiting. This procession is done at the start of Advent.

The prayer table after all the Advent items were place on it. Purple cloth, Advent wreath, prophecy card, the plant (we didn't have flowers, which is what would normally be there), plus the Good Shepherd statue, little Bible, and snuffer.

The prayer table after all the Advent items were placed on it. Purple cloth, Advent wreath, prophecy card, the plant (we didn’t have flowers, which is what would normally be there), plus the Good Shepherd statue, little Bible, and snuffer.

The Annunciation diorama - the first of the Infancy Narrative dioramas.

The Annunciation diorama – the first of the Infancy Narrative dioramas.

The set up for an Infancy Narrative presentation - the prayer table with the purple cloth and lit candles corresponding to the week in Advent.

The set up for an Infancy Narrative presentation – the prayer table with the purple cloth and lit candles corresponding to the week in Advent. Mary with an empty crib, waiting.

Adoration of the Shepherds. The three Infancy Narratives we didn't do this time are the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Presentation in the Temple.

Adoration of the Shepherds. The three Infancy Narratives we didn’t do this time are the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Presentation in the Temple.

The Preparation of the Chalice.

The Preparation of the Chalice.

 

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The prayer table after the Easter procession and changeover.

The prayer table after the Easter procession and changeover.

Part of the first Baptism presentation.

Part of the first Baptism presentation.

We haven't yet got a stand for our Paschal candle so a small jug stepped in for that presentation!

We haven’t yet got a stand for our Paschal candle so a small jug stepped in for that presentation!

 

 

Vestments and liturgical colours

The vestment sets in the atrium have a dual purpose. The chasubles by themselves teach the liturgical colours, and the set as a whole teaches what the priest wears, why, and the prayers that go with them. Our sets are finally finished and we’re just waiting on the standing hangers for the chasubles and the figure for the full set.

Amice, alb, and cincture. We got our pattern for the vestments from here. It took a bit of thinking to put everything together but we got there :)

Amice, alb, and cincture. We got our pattern for the vestments from here. It took a bit of thinking to put everything together but we got there 🙂

Chasubles and stoles. Still trying to figure out exactly where the stoles are supposed to be kept (separate or with the chasubles). It's going to be wonderful having our trainer have a look at what we've done when she arrives next weekend, to clear up confusions and give us some tips! We have just re-entered Ordinary time, or the time of growth, signified by green. It seems that only the four main colours are used in the atrium, for the sake of simplicity.

Chasubles and stoles. Still trying to figure out exactly where the stoles are supposed to be kept (separate or with the chasubles). It’s going to be wonderful having our trainer have a look at what we’ve done when she arrives next weekend, to clear up confusions and give us some tips!
We have just re-entered Ordinary time, or the time of growth, signified by green.

The other marker of liturgical time in the atrium is the prayer table, which carries a cloth of the colour corresponding to the liturgical season in which the children are meeting. It seems that only the four main colours are used in the atrium, for the sake of simplicity, so on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, when the priest wears rose, the atrium will use the colour of the season – purple. We haven’t yet worked out exactly how it works when the colour of the day is different to the season, for example if a solemnity falls on a Sunday of Ordinary Time. So many details!

Our prayer table. We still need a Bible on a stand or cushion.

Our prayer table. We still need a Bible on a stand or cushion.

This is part of our liturgical calendar, showing the Sundays of the year. More detailed information here.

This is part of our liturgical calendar, showing the Sundays of the year. More detailed information here.

Biblical geography

In order to have an idea of what part of the world Jesus came from, there is a small geography area in the atrium. This consists of a globe, a topographical map, and a puzzle map of the different regions (both maps as of Jesus’ time, not modern day).

A simple "sandpaper" globe delineating only land and sea. We will put a mark for Israel and one for Hamilton.

A simple “sandpaper” globe delineating only land and sea. We will put a mark for Israel and one for Hamilton.

Our topographical map is not quite finished, but close enough. The three markers are for Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth. Ours is very modest compared to what it could be - see here for an ideal one - but will serve its purpose.

Our topographical map is not quite finished, but close enough. The three markers are for Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth. Ours is very modest compared to what it could be – see here for an ideal one – but will serve its purpose.

Puzzle map of the regions of Israel at the time of Jesus. Unfortunately by the time we found a picture showing exactly where the sea should be, there was too much of it (there should be more land between the brown piece and the sea), but it's close enough. The children will learn the names of each region.

Puzzle map of the regions of Israel at the time of Jesus. Unfortunately by the time we found a picture showing exactly where the sea should be, there was too much of it (there should be more land between the brown piece and the sea), but it’s close enough. The children will learn the names of each region from a control chart and have access to maps they can colour and label.

Setting up the atrium

It’s going to take a while to find the ideal set up for the atrium, and probably things will change a bit as we add new materials in throughout the year also. Here’s an overview of where we’re at currently. See other posts for more detail on various sections.

Current view from the other end of the room.

Current view from the other end of the room.

In the centre of the photo is the art area. Space to do tracing, with coloured pencils, pencils, paper, religious pictures, scissors, and pasting sets.

In the centre of the photo is the art area. Space to do tracing, with coloured pencils, pencils, paper, religious pictures, scissors, and pasting sets. (It’s not quite finished).

The practical life shelf is just about done. From L-R - top - spare polishing cloths and other cleany things, brass polishing, candle care, pouring with funnel, dry pouring, wet pouring, clean up cloths. Bottom - plant care, flower arranging, handwashing (just missing a bowl).

The practical life shelf is just about done. From L-R – top – spare polishing cloths and other cleany things, brass polishing, candle care, pouring with funnel, dry pouring, wet pouring, clean up cloths. Bottom – plant care, flower arranging, handwashing (just missing a bowl).

Added to the Baptism corner - a jug to fill up the bowl we still need; a shell for pouring and a white garment in the basket. The flax mats are for working on the floor.

The Baptism corner – Baptismal font and a jug to fill up the bowl inside the font (which we still need); a shell for pouring and a white garment in the basket. The flax mats are for working on the floor.

Bit of an overview.

Bit of an overview. We have a variety of different sizes for table and chairs – because we got them from all over – but it’s actually quite handy since there will be a variety of sizes of children in the atrium.

And for those curious about what the rest of the room looks like. It's used for Sunday school, meetings, and suchlike. We're nervously hoping any children are well supervised!

And for those curious about what the rest of the room looks like. It’s used for Sunday school, meetings, and suchlike. We’re nervously hoping any children are well supervised!