Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a Montessori approach to faith formation with children that began in Rome over 60 years ago.

In 1954, Sofia Cavalletti, a Biblical scholar, and her co-worker, Gianna Gobbi, a trained Montessorian, began to develop this approach for the religious formation of children. It is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the Church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was a devout Catholic who believed faith formation has an essential role in the development of the child.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level I Catechist Formation

St. Francis is hosting a Level I Catechist Formation.

  • Dates: April 5-7, April 19-21, May 17-19, June 21-23, August 2-4
  • Cost: $450*
  • Meets at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
    7075 Ashworth Rd
    West Des Moines, IA 50266
  • Space is limited
  • See brochure for additional information

*If you are interested in tuition assistance and committed to serving as a CGS catechist for at least two years in the parish, please reach out to Katie at or 515-440-1030 PRIOR to registering. You will need to pay a $50 deposit to reserve your place in the course and purchase your own books for approximately $50.

Please contact Kristi at to register.

Registration for 2024-25

CGS sessions meet September – May. Space in each atrium is limited. Registration details can be found here.

*Level I-for ages 3-5 (must be 3 and potty-trained by the first session)
*Level II is for ages 6-8
*Level III is for ages 9-11

Session Times (Tentative)

Wednesdays, 5:30-7pm, Levels I, II & III

Helpful Links


Faith Formation Volunteer Opportunities- Coming Soon!

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd takes place in a specially prepared space called an Atrium.

  • The Atrium contains age-appropriate materials that are simple and essential to the child’s development of a relationship with God.
  • The Atrium items are carefully selected or created out of wood, glass, metal and fabric. Many of the materials will remind the child of what they see in church.
  • Children are taught a sense of reverence for the Atrium and for the items it contains. The expected behavior in the Atrium is peaceful and respectful, similar to what is expected at Mass.
  • In our busy, noisy world, many children find refuge in the quieter atmosphere of the Atrium.

A visit to an atrium session would be a good way to understand the experience of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Each session consists of a presentation of new material, work time, and prayer.

  • Presentations include biblical geography, liturgy, the Nativity narratives, parables, and practical life lessons. Older children are also introduced to Old Testament work.
  • The presentations are selected to coincide with the Church year. After the presentation, the children may choose to work with the materials during their work time. All materials remain in the Atrium the entire year so children may revisit past presentations during their work time. The children are given time for repetition and contemplation but may only choose to work with materials that have been presented to them.
  • Communal prayer takes place during each atrium session. The children gather around the prayer table and are encouraged to be calm and silent. This habit helps develop an atmosphere to listen and talk to God.

Since many of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd lessons are linked to the liturgy, children benefit greatly by also attending Mass regularly with their families.

For more information about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), contact Kristi Quinlan, Early Childhood Faith Formation Coordinator or call the Faith Formation Office at 515-440-1030.


Many volunteers are needed to help Faith Formation programming run smoothly. Adult Catechists receive free Faith Formation tuition for their children. Assistant Catechists receive a 50% discount on their children’s Faith Formation tuition. Teen volunteers receive service hours.

If you are interested in sharing your time and talents with our youth, please contact the Faith Formation Office at 515-440-1030.