Formation program helps children explore faith

Helping young children discover the meaning of God in their own lives is a calling Susanne Borg believes the Lord “laid on her heart”.

The Launceston woman was one of 20 participants at last month’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation experience, an initiative of the Archdiocese of Hobart.

“It is very important for children to have that opportunity to discover God in a really beautiful way, and a personal way, at a young age,” she said.

“I believe it will lay the foundation for their faith as they grow up.”

The course, facilitated by Kathy Menzies and Julia Zaar, provided participants with the necessary background to set up a prepared environment and begin working with children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Helping students find God: Dr Christine Wood and students during a
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium.

Director of the Office of Evangelisation and Catechesis Dr Christine Wood said the course was designed for adults seeking to serve children who are three to six years old by introducing them to the Word of God, facilitating encounters with God through prayer and reflection on the Christian mysteries, and preparing them for full participation in the Church’s liturgy.

“Catechists formed in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd would be able to work in, or establish, an atrium for children,” she explained.

“All the key themes and presentations that are essential to this method of Catechesis are introduced at this level so it is important for an adult to begin at this level. It is also valuable for the adult in understanding the child’s developmental needs and religious capacities at this level.”

Dr Wood said the participants dived into the formation experience with great enthusiasm.

“They have a real desire to share their Catholic faith with children.And the faith and experience of the formation leaders was a great source of nourishment to the participants,” she said.

“I was greatly encouraged that we have sufficient numbers of participants to establish more atriums for this Catechesis so that the work will continue to grow in Tasmania.”

Dr Wood said the hands-on course was different from classroom-based religious education, and required an appreciation of the Holy Spirit as the interior teacher.

“It’s amazing to hear how very young children respond to the Gospel, often with profound prayer,” she said.

“The participants found the formation helpful in their own spiritual journey as they were able to approach God with the openness of a young child.”

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