The Problems: A Short Summary
Updated: Oct 21
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has problems in three main areas. The first is a lack of an objective curriculum and thus no guarantee that the teachers will cover the necessary material to properly catechize the students. Second, some of the faculty who implement and train CGS catechists are not always orthodox. Third, there are teaching methods taken from Maria Montessori who wrote academic journals for the Theosophy Society in India.
1) No complete curriculum
Unlike a traditional curriculum that follows a single book for all who teach the same class, each catechist forms the class from his or her own album page. The album page is written by the catechist during training sessions and is slightly different for each catechist, depending on the instructor. There is only a master plan which generally but not particularly, reveals what is to be presented to all the catechists. CGS sets the foundations doctrines to be conveyed within the album pages through these specified themes. The contents of these album pages are handwritten and passed down from the CGS instructor to the catechist during CGS training. What is problematic is that time and again the album pages reveal that vast amounts of Catholic doctrine are missing from the program.
Upon observing these album pages it is clear that the CGS system is missing many essential teachings such as the Trinity, sanctifying grace, original sin, angels, and Marian doctrines. This is partly because CGS ideology believes that the catechist is not to teach but to let the child draw conclusions through inner spiritual knowledge. The founders of CGS even admit to removing parts of catechesis they did not find to be essential. However, since there is no formal curriculum, CGS has never been approved or condemned by the USCCB.
The CGS catechists are not encouraged to teach, because only Christ is the teacher; and the catechists are mere guides who asks pondering questions. Since this is combined with only a slim outline of content which needs to be covered, means that it is unlikely that the catechists will cover the necessary material which has been mandated by the US bishops. It is true that one can adopt elements from the CGS style to convey the faith in a manner that is both adequate and orthodox; but as this blog will reveal, this can only be achieved by ignoring much of the ideology of CGS.
2) Implemented by unorthodox members
Though there is not a universal formal curriculum/album pages, all CGS catechists attend classes to be trained to teach CGS and learn the CGS ideology and method. At the very apex of this organization, we see people who drastically deviate from the Church's teachings. One example is Catherine Maresca, whose website (Center for Children and Theology) is supported by CGSUSA. Maresca's site is linked to by CGSUSA and contains materials to aid children in participating in prayers of other religions such as Islam. They even sell Zen gongs to be rung before each class, and materials to participate in Buddhist rituals and meditation.
The yearly CGSUSA retreat also contains unorthodox members who gives talks on implementing CGS. These conferences are called "Weaving Our Gifts" and are organized by the Center for Children and Theology run by Catherine Maresca. Here the unorthodoxy of CGSUSA is also manifested by speakers such as Sr. Linda Gibbler.
3) Based on the style and ideology of Maria Montessori
Unlike the traditional method of passing on truths, by which students learn from teachers, in the CGS program, the catechist is not to teach the student, because this would impede the student's creativity. Maria Montessori taught that the child has special knowledge not found in adults which the child can access and thereby come to know truths. This does not come from a Christian understanding in which the Faith must be passed down from previous generations, for certain things can only be known through Revelation. Rather Maria Montessori's journal writings for Theosophy Society in India reveal that her ideology came from the teachings of false religions. These ideas from theosophy permeate the method and ideology of CGS.
"Indian Red dot Known as a bindi. A bindi is a bright dot of some color applied in the center of the forehead close to the eyebrows worn in the Indian subcontinent (particularly amongst Hindus in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia among Balinese, Javanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Burmese Hindus. A similar marking is also worn by babies and children in China and, like in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, represents the opening of the third eye."