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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - Level 1 Catechist Training at Saint Patrick - Saint Anthony Church
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by Lori Andrada

SUBJECT:  Good Shepherd

 

TITLE:  The Good Shepherd

 

AGE:  3+

 

SOURCES: 

  • John 10:  3b-5, 10b-11, 14-16
  • The Religious Potential of the Child, Ch. 3
  • Ezekiel 34
  • The Good Shepherd and the Child, p. 40-53
  • Materials Manual, p. 107-113

 

LITURGICAL TIME:  Lent or as soon as the children have reached a place of inner stillness to be able to truly listen and receive the message

  • 3’s:  Lent of 1st year in atrium (You move from the short prophesies to the Advent narratives and the parables, stretching the amount of time that the children sit and listen to a presentation.)
  • New 4’s:  hopefully before Advent
  • Present to three or four children.  It is possible with six children, but it is recommended that you keep the group smaller.

 

DOCTRINAL CONTENT:

  • Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
  • Jesus loves each one of us.
  • Jesus knows us very deeply.
  • Jesus will always care for us/protect us.
  • Jesus lays down his life for us.
  • The sheep belong to the Good Shepherd, recognize his voice, and follow him.
  • One day all will be united in the same sheepfold.
  • The love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the source, model and reason for the Good Shepherd’s love for us.

 

DIRECT AIM:

  • To introduce Jesus as the Good Shepherd and to assist in fostering a relationship of love with the Good Shepherd. 

 

INDIRECT AIMS:

  • To prepare for the announcement of the paschal mystery.
  • To prepare for future Good Shepherd presentations.
  • To increase a sense of belonging and being called—a model for Christian community.
  • To offer an image of the Parousia.
  • To offer the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and we as sheep.
  • To foster a deeper understanding of Eucharist as Jesus’ meal.
  • To offer a bridge or link between the historical Jesus and the liturgical Jesus.

 


MATERIALS:

  • Sheepfold painted green with a fence that can be opened and closed.  Fence can be made from stone, which would be culturally/historically accurate, but you still need a gate that can be opened and closed.
  • Shepherd
  • 10 sheep: all figures are flat/2-dimensional since this is a parable
  • Candle, matches, snuffer and tray for spent matches
  • A dedicated table in the relative center of the room.  It can be low and the children sit on the floor or it can be a higher table at which the children use chairs.
  • Blue scripture booklet.  (You will also need a space for the Found Sheep scripture booklet.)
  • A box lined with green felt or a basket for the sheep and shepherd.  The box at the St. Patrick-St. Anthony atrium has a clasp.  It could also be a lined drawer in which you keep the material.
  • Tracing packet in a blue folder.

 

PRESENTATION TO THE CHILDREN:

Introduction

We’ve been coming to the atrium for a long time.  In so many of the things we’ve seen and done, we’ve come to know Jesus and to learn about him, and to love him.  And yet, there is still so much to know.

 

When Jesus walked on earth, people wanted to be near him.  They followed him.  They were very attracted by what he said.  They wondered to themselves, “Who is he?”  because Jesus looked like everybody else, but he spoke in such a special way.  People were very curious about him.

 

Once, when Jesus wanted to tell them who he was, he began by saying “I am the Good Shepherd.”

 

We can think about the job of a shepherd. 

A shepherd takes care of sheep, making sure that they have everything they need--food, water.  A shepherd keeps the sheep safe. 

 

The Good Shepherd knows all his sheep by their names.  Even though he has many, many sheep, he still knows each one by its name.

 

The sheep begin to recognize his voice and to listen to him.  A bond is created between the shepherd who knows them by their name and the sheep who listen to his voice.  He guides them to good pastures.  He walks ahead of them, to protect and defend them if there is any danger.  They follow him because they know his voice.

 

Jesus said I am the good shepherd.  We can listen to his words from the Bible and see what else he said.

 

Solemn Reading of the Scripture:

Light the candle.

“The Good Shepherd”  John 10:3-5, 11-16

The Good Shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

 

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

 

But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 

I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold.  I must bring them also.

 

They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  (meditative pause)

 

Meditation:

So what do we hear?  What are some of the things we heard about?

 

Discuss with the children and respond to their responses.  This response is often just a repeating of the words the children give.

 

A long time ago there would be one sheepfold where the sheep would stay to be safe.  In the morning, the shepherd would come and call the sheep and they would follow him.

 

Jesus said that they knew his voice and would follow him.

Jesus said that sheep know him and he know them.  Just as the father knows Jesus and Jesus know the Father.

 

How much does Jesus love his sheep?

They are so protected and cared for!

 

Alternate longer reflection if children are able to sit longer from The Good Shepherd and the Child):   (MaryLynne suggests from experience, to save this till after the reading with the materials – you don’t want to lose the children before they get to see the reading with the materials – or you could use one of these ideas now and more later) 

The Good Shepherd knows every one of his sheep by name.  Gradually the sheep come to recognize his voice, and they listen to it.

 

The Good Shepherd leads his sheep out of the sheepfold and he guides them.  He walks ahead of his sheep to defend them from every danger.

 

The Good Shepherd’s love for his sheep is so great that it is like the love that binds together the Father and the Son (in the secret life of the Trinity, verses 14-15).

 

The Good Shepherd gives himself to his sheep in many ways (this does not related only to the moment of death but also to the continuous self-giving of the shepherd’s love).  He care for, protects, and defend the flock that belongs to him.

 

The Good Shepherd’s voice is so powerful that it will reach all the sheep, even those that are not yet a part of his flock, until at last there will be only one flock and one shepherd.

 

 

Scripture Reading with Materials:

(Gesture to the sheepfold.)  We can think of this as our sheepfold.  It has a gate that opens and closes.  (Take out the box/basket that holds the figures.)

 

This is the Good Shepherd.  (Place the Good Shepherd in the sheepfold.)

And the sheep.  (Place sheep in the sheepfold one at a time.)

 

Let’s listen to this again.  (Read the scripture.) 

 

“…calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  (Move the shepherd in front of the gate, propping it open.  Move the sheep out of the sheepfold, one at a time.)

 

“When he has brought out...know his voice.”  (Move to the other side of the table.  Have the sheep follow the shepherd, one at a time.)

 

“But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice...one shepherd.”  (Move the shepherd to hold the gate open.  Move the sheep through the gate, one at a time.  Move the shepherd inside the gate.  Close the gate.)

 

How much these sheep are cared for!  The good shepherd knows each of them by name and he loves them. 

 

I wonder who these sheep are….

They must be so precious to the shepherd….

He gives his own life for them…

He knows each by its name….

 

 

Later when the children are working with the materials you can reflect on this further from The Good Shepherd and the Child:

Do you think these are the same type of sheep as we see in the fields….?

Do you think so…?

I am not so sure….

They are so precious to the shepherd…

Maybe they are something or someone more important….?

 

If the children proclaim that they are the sheep, you can further guide their reflections to help it go deeper into their heart and personalize the parable’s message from The Good Shepherd and the Child:

So you think that we are the sheep…?

We are so many, yet he know each of us by our name…?

Then we are so loved….?

We are cared for in that way….!

 

 

 

Welcoming and Inviting a Response:
There’s a song we can sing.  Sing the refrain from “Like a Shepherd”

 

“Like a Shepherd” by Bob Dufford

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms,

holding them carefully close to his heart,

leading them home.

 

Restoration of the Material:

(Extinguish the candle.)  This is your work now.  You can use it anytime you want.

 

(Bring out the box/basket for the figures.  Invite the children to help return the materials to the box.)

 

CHILDREN’S WORK WITH THE MATERIAL:

  • Working with the materials.
  • Using the tracing packet.
  • Original art.
  • Copying the scripture (older children).
  • Hearing the scripture (younger children).

 

RESPONSE OF THE CHILDREN:

 

CGS Level 1 Catechist Training