Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (Atrium)

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a highly acclaimed approach to the religious formation of children, rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the Church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Normally, children gather in an “atrium,” a room specially prepared for them which contains simple yet beautiful materials that they use to ponder the story of Christ and the life of the Church.


First Confession & Holy Communion 

Children in the Level II atrium (for those aged 6-9) may prepare to make their First Confession and First Holy Communion. Typically, it is expected that children will have been enrolled in religious education classes the year prior to the year of sacramental reception (either in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program or the parish’s traditional religious education program). If you have questions regarding Sacramental Preparation for your child, please contact


Catechists & Assistants

All atrium catechists are required to attend 100 hours of formation in each level before leading an atrium. The 100 hours provide the foundation for their continuing study of Scripture and the liturgy, learning how to observe the child, and personal prayer.In addition to the catechist, each atrium also has one or more assistants, who play an invaluable role in enabling the atrium to function smoothly and in assuring that each child flourishes. No special training is required to become an atrium assistant; each catechist provides brief training to his or her assistant(s). Any parent, grandparent, high school student, or other parishioner who is interested in assisting in an atrium is invited to please find the contact information at the top of the page.



For more information about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, including books that can be excellent resources for anyone whose child is enrolled in an atrium, as well as listings of formation classes for those interested in becoming catechists, visit the national Catechesis of the Good Shepherd web site.

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2020 - 2021 Classes

This year, to align with Archdiocesan guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety protocols, St. Mary Parish will be offering a “non-in-person” version of its atrium faith formation program for children aged 3-12. The program will consist of the following:

  • Once-monthly half-hour catechist-led Zoom meetings with small groups of all but the youngest children. We will schedule the children's Zoom sessions during our traditional atrium time slots of 4:30- 6:30 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays.

  • Paper works (and a few involving other materials, such as Sculpy clay) sent home in packets to the children to work on either in preparation for a Zoom session, or to extend and enrich it afterwards 

  • A lending program of our actual atrium works, in which each month every family will be able to have an atrium work in their home for their children to work with -- with the works returned and disinfected and rotated to a different family at the end of the  month.

  • Parent support via email and one-on-one phone calls from catechists to help families help their children to use the home-based works and materials as fruitfully as possible --plus two or three parent- only Zoom meetings to provide more general guidance, such as tips for setting up a Prayer Corner in one's home.