A Day with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
By Nina Pratt
I have taught Sunday School to children in this parish, to inner city kids, to adults in rural parishes, but I have never seen anything like the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I'm still fumbling around on the floor to find my jaw where it dropped.
I didn't have any idea what to expect when I was dragooned into going up to North Tarrytown, a.k.a. Sleepy Hollow, to attend a seminar in progress on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Liz Crommett drove our seminarian Marc Burnette, our new rector Stephen Gerth and myself to St. Teresa of Avila School where we met up with Chris Pyles. Rebecca Rojcewicz, one of the most skilled teachers of catechists in the program, presided over a room full of men, women, lay, religious and ordained, all of whom shared one interest: awakening a love of Christ in children and teaching them the fundamentals of the faith.
I began teaching Sunday School with great trepidation. I don't have children of my own, had never taught children and didn't even really want to teach children, but there was a great need and I didn't see anyone else volunteering, so I dove in, being quite certain I'd crack my head on a rock. I researched the subjects I was teaching as well as teaching methods on my own, wishing I had a mentor or a workshop I could attend, some sort of support, but not much was available in the short amount of time I had to prepare.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd takes all that anxiety away and in its place puts the catechist's spiritual growth as well as a solid program of learning for both child and teacher. The first thing that becomes obvious is there's no rush. Although some catechists are teaching as they learn, others learn before they teach. Training is 90 hours, 10 Saturdays in the program we visited, or 10 days over a summer. And that's just the training.
What makes the program so unique is the catechist makes/recycles/buys all the objects used to teach. These objects, called "materials,” are placed in a dedicated room called an “atrium” where children can explore them. My personal favorite was a complete sacristy, including vesting table, which contained doll-sized vestments, linens, and altar furnishings. Others in our group admired a model of the empty tomb, complete with breakaway wall so you could see inside a "young man robed in white" and the grave cloths. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, were clustered around the doorway ready to enter. A central "material" is, of course, the Good Shepherd who guards his flock of sheep in a sheepfold with a gate that shuts with a satisfying click. What kid (of any age) could resist such neat stuff?
Classes are carefully geared to three age groups: 3-6, 7-9, and 10-12. There's no rush to "cover everything,” no cramming of memorized prayers. Instead, the child discovers and learns as he or she is ready while the catechist acts as guide. Children who spend even a year in this program not only exhibit an astonishingly large vocabulary of terms (tell the truth, now, how old were you when you learned the word "epiclesis"?) but seem to have a deeper understanding of their meaning than many adults do. Sunday School becomes a source of spiritual growth for the adult catechist while the child grows and learns as well. Sunday School ceases to be a chore for the adult and something to be endured by the child and becomes a true reflection of God's abiding love for us all.
Wow. Fr. Gerth waxes eloquent on this program and will be introducing it to St. Mary's in the fall. You have an opportunity to give it a test-flight on April 17 when observers from St. Mary's will again go up to Tarrytown to see this program in action. It's a pleasant drive, fun, and edifying, if I can use that lovely Victorian word. Space in the classroom is limited so please speak to Fr. Gerth if you'd like to come along.
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Charles Arthur who is hospitalized and for Catherine Rose, Thomas, Maxine, Michael, Louise, Barbara, Daisy, Shirley, Tom, Mark, Donna, Maria, Ellen, Bernadine, Gloria, Louis, Karen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ken, John, Nina, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 15: 1969 Peter Chan; March 18: 1947 Howard Place, 1965 Marie Barreaux; March 20: 1954 Karl Bennett.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . We are late in reporting to you that we learned in the February 24, 1999 edition of The New York Times that a former member of our parish community, George Evertson Dix, died on February 23, 1999 at Collington Episcopal Community in Mitchellville, Maryland. After the requiem in Washington, he was buried at the Moravian Cemetery, Staten Island, on Thursday, February 25. Please pray for him and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:1-14, John 9:1-38 . . . 9:00 CELEBRANT Fr. Shin, 9:00 Preacher Mr. Burnette, seminarian assistant, Celebrant & Preacher 10:00 Father Parker, 11:00 Celebrant The Rector, 11:00 Preacher Fr. Leech, 5:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Parker . . . On Saturday, March 13, Father Shin will hear confessions. On Saturday, March 20, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER? . . . If someone asks this question of you, the answer is, “Call the parish office. They will take care of everything for you.” One becomes a member of an Episcopal parish by being baptized in the parish, by having one’s Letter of Transfer sent from another Episcopal parish, or by having the fact of one’s baptism in another denomination recorded in the Register of Baptized Persons of an Episcopal parish. We repeat, if the question arises the answer is, “Call the parish office. They will take care of everything for you.”
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember the Quiet Day with Father Leech on Saturday, March 13, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM . . .Charles Arthur Schaefer suffered a heart attack last week in Florida. As we go to press he is in intensive care at Mount Sinai Hospital, Miami. Please keep him in your prayers . . . A memorial Mass will be offered on Saturday, March 13, at 2:00 PM in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy for the repose of the soul of Demetra Leslie, Brian Brown’s mother. Your prayers and presence are requested . . . On most Sundays you can expect to see some ministers of Communion bringing the Holy Communion up to the choir gallery so that members of the choir can receive during the Mass at which they sing . . . Hard to stay on hold these days when calling GIA, a major church music publisher. Last week they featured the Litany of the Saints to the tune of “When the saints go marching in.” We’re not kidding . . . You know he’s from Saint Mary’s: At coffee the other morning it came out in conversation that Father Parker has never celebrated at an altar facing the people . . . There are some old and worn but still useful oriental rugs in the rectory that need careful (cold water?) washing. If you are knowledgeable about such things would you please speak with the Rector . . . Chris Babcock played organ music of Bach, Franck and Wyton in the noonday concert series of Grace Church, White Plains, on Wednesday, March 3 . . . If someone knows why there is a sewing machine in Saint Benedict’s Study and why we should keep it, he or she should speak with the Rector soon . . . We welcome Paul Blanchard and Jim Gibboney to the choir. Paul and Jim have moved here recently from San Francisco where they sang in the choir at the Church of the Advent. Paul, Jim, welcome to St. Mary’s! . . . Altar Servers: Sacristy cleaning on Sunday, March 14, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM . . . Attendance last Sunday: 183.
AT THE MARCH 8th, 1999 BOARD MEETING . . . The Rector began the meeting with a meditation on John 12:24, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The Board of Trustees took the following actions: (1) reviewed the music budget for 1999; (2) voted to amend the by-laws, to allow the vice-president to serve on the executive committee of the board, along with the president (the rector), the secretary and the treasurer; (3) voted to undertake a general review of the by-laws; (4) heard plans for the installation of the rector which will occur at the Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1999; (5) reviewed the budget for evangelism for 1999 and the budget for renovations in the rectory; and (6) formed a committee to look into improving the sound system in the church.
Worship at Saint Mary’s During Lent
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM and from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM and by appointment.
Stations of the Cross & Benediction
Stations of the Cross & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered on Friday, March 19, at the Church of the Transfiguration. This service is offered jointly by this parish and the Church of the Transfiguration. We alternate locations on Friday nights during Lent.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend William C. Parker, curate, The Reverend Allen Shin, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Paulette Schiff,
The Reverend James Ross Smith, The Reverend Horace Choate, assisting priests.
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.