Faith in Focus

Faith in Focus: Catechesis offers sacred lessons for children

April 1, 2014 

The Atrium is a special place at St. Raphael Preschool. It is quiet. Children can only come inside once a week. And the four- and five-year-olds must open a special door to enter the sacred space. During the weekly Catechesis of the Good Shepherd class, the children learn principals of faith that they will build upon for the rest of their life.

“Many of our children tell us that Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is their favorite part of preschool,” said Carrie Griffifth, director of St. Raphael Preschool. “We focus on faith formation and setting up the foundation in a way that preschoolers can understand. Our goal is for the children to fall in love with Christ.”

But once inside the room, the teacher doesn’t teach the typical preschool lessons and craft project. Instead a sacred story is shared using handmade materials and then children are asked open ended questions about what they have heard. After the lesson, children can work with the materials and also create art to express their feelings about the story they have learned.

“It always amazes me the wisdom and knowledge that the children have that we as adults seem to have forgotten,” said Griffifth. “When I go over scripture the children will say something that reflects a very deep spiritual knowledge. At this age they are so taken by love and ready to love other people. They really understand and are drawn to the concept of a Good Shepherd who loves them and never leaves them.”

The preschool has been teaching this program to little ones since it opened its doors in 1979 and it is based on Montessori principles of education. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was developed under the guidance of scripture scholar Sofia Cavelleti and Montessori teacher Gianna Gobbi, in Rome, Italy. The Atrium contains models of items used in worship including an altar and altar vessels, liturgical vestments, a baptismal font, and a representation of the first Eucharistic supper. The stories that the children hear are taken from Scriptural parables, prophecies, the geography of Israel, and events from the life of Christ.

“We don’t teach them how to pray so their closing prayers are very spontaneous,” said Griffifth. “They always thanking God for their family or telling Jesus that they love him. They respond to God’s love and they enjoy it.”

Richland Creek Unashamed Performance

The community is invited to the Easter drama Unashamed presented by Richland Creek Community Church at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 11 at the church, 3229 Burlington Mills Road, Wake Forest. The performance is free and a dessert fellowship will be held after the event. For more information, call 919-556-9292 or visit www.richlandcreek.com.

Bay Leaf Baptist Church Sunday School Mission Fundraiser

The Faith VIII Sunday School class at Bay Leaf Baptist Church is holding a Flapjack Fundraiser from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday, April 5, at Applebees, 7831 Target Circle, Raleigh. Tickets are $8 per plate. All funds will go to help the Hemphill family follow God's call to the mission field and are moving their family of seven to Africa to serve with the African Inland Mission. Contact Keri Miller for tickets kcmiller1019@gmail.com.

St. James United Methodist Men Fish Fry

The United Methodist Men at St. James UMC will be serving fish plates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday April 4 at the church, 3808 St. James Church Road, Raleigh. Plates are $8 and include fish, slaw boiled potatoes and hush puppies. Take out is also available. The church’s United Methodist Women will also be selling homemade desserts. For more information, call 919-876-5796.

Jennifer Gregory compiles Faith in Focus. Contact her via email at JenniferGregory@nc.rr.com. Please send items to be included in this feature at least two weeks prior to the event date.

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