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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd:
Wrought with Errors

Perpetua G. Sheehan
The Montessori method used in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is an urgent topic, in my mind, because of the breadth of the spread of this program in parishes around the country, even at more traditional parishes. Parents, and perhaps even some "catechists" in the program, may be unaware of these alarming issues.

Evolving the cosmos, third-eyes, chakras & more

Below I present select facts that should raise concern in Catholics. There are many, many more facts, hence entire websites dedicated to this purpose. This is information I put together for my own documentation and also shared with my parish priests. I thought TIA readers would be interested in the alert as well.

catechesios of the good shepherd

CGS is based on the ecumenical Montessori teaching method

Many Catholics think that Maria Montessori was Catholic, and therefore trust her Montessori teaching method, which is the foundation for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. What they do not know is that she turned to Eastern theosophy, was deeply involved in early feminism, supported ecumenism and tolerance of other religions, and was often at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sadly, the Montessori ideology, which is characterized by the error of Modernism and also penetrated with the error Religious Indifferentism, is part of the CGS program.

Here are some quotes that express her thinking:
  • “We are created in order to evolve the cosmos." A quote from Montessori's book The Absorbent Mind (original version published in 1949). In the same paragraph she states "Nor is the purpose of life to perfect oneself, nor only to evolve. The purpose of life is to obey the hidden command which ensures harmony among all and create an even better world."

  • Maria Montessori third eye india

    Maria Montessori pictured with a third eye, a Hindu pagan practice associated with chakras

  • Montessori wore on multiple occasions a "third eye," a Hindu pagan practice dealing with chakras.

  • "The child unconscious drinks in divine power, whilst the reasoning consciousness of the adult is but human." (In The Child, Society, and the World)

  • "The teacher cannot have any immediate influence either upon the formation or upon the inner discipline of the students, ... her confidence must be placed and must rest in their hidden and latent energies." (In "The Child" published in The Theosophist, Dec 1941)

  • "Just as language has many expressions ... so does elevation express itself by way of different creeds: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and many different belief systems in order to communicate with and about god." (In The Child, Society, and the World.)

  • "Religion is a universal sentiment which is inside everybody ... [and] is not something which we must give to the child." (In The Child, Society, and the World)
An ecumenical catechism

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montesorri program created by Sofia Cavalletti, should be viewed with vigilance by good Catholics. It is a hands-on program to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, but it is very short on any doctrinal material in order not to teach truths that would be offensive to other religions.

There is no set catechism book that teaches the truths of the Catholic Church, and the doctrine that is missing is crucial to the faith, as you will see further on. This creative way to learn follows the Montessori ideology that the child does not learn from the teacher, but will come to the conclusions through an inner deeper knowledge.

Here are some of the disturbing items I found along with screenshots demonstrating them:

pagan items

Hands on teaching material to learn all the world religious

  • Buddhist, Islamic, Zenergy Chimes and other pagan materials are sold for use specifically in the CGS classroom by the Center for Children and Theology. The CTT is promoted by the national CGS association on their website (CGS-USA), and holds the national CGS conference every year. (See here and here)

  • A yin yang symbol was worn by speaker – a teaching sister – at the 2019 national CGS conference. (See a summary critique here.)

  • "Ecumenism is not just a branch of catechesis; rather, the spirit of ecumenism must permeate the whole of catechesis," a quote by CGS program creator Sofia Cavalletti. (See here.)

  • Episcopalian and "Orthodox" CGS programs are being promoted by CGS-USA official website on an equal footing with what they call "CGS in the Catholic Tradition" (see screenshot below taken this week by me, and see national CGS website here

  • ecumenism,

  • A female, protestant "clergy-woman" was the keynote speaker at the CGS workshops titled "De-Colonizing Our Atrium" and "Steps Towards an Anti-Racist Atrium" workshop, all at the most recent national CGS conference in October 2021. The Agenda can be seen here and the protestant "reverend" woman bio is found here.

  • yin yang

    Yin Yang necklace, instead of crucifix, worn by 2019 CGS National Conference Speaker (religious sister); below another key note speaker was a protestant ‘minister’

    protestant minister
  • "The subjects of ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and solidarity with all of creation are integral to what Maria Montessori names 'cosmic education' or 'expansive education.'" Quote by CGS program creator Sophia Cavalletti. See here.

  • An Episcopalian catechist woman was featured on the national CGS website discussing Catholic and Episcopalian "bishops" taking turns at celebrating "Mass or Eucharist" together in an inter-faith pilgrimage. (Video on the left here)

  • Religious indifferentism on the official CGS-USA website regarding Catholics, Episcopalians, and "Orthodox:" "The gift of the knowledge that our unity is in what is essential," and "The gift of growing esteem and respect for our diverse traditions." See website here.

  • Approbation of the "historical-critical method of scripture study and much collaboration across denominational lines," another quote from the CGS-USA website. See here.

  • Approbation of "our various faith traditions" by current CGS-USA National Director on their website, as she places Catholicism and protestant sects on equal footing.

    At the beginning of this video, she visibly almost makes the sign of the cross to begin the group prayer, then catches herself and stops. (Video on the right here)

  • Sisters of Grandchamp Switzerland are promoted on the CGS-USA site;the CGS-USA Director states that these "sisters" chose the song for the CGS "Prayer for Christian Unity" event. These non-Catholic sisters are "a monastic community [that] brings together sisters from different churches," begun by women from the "Reformed Church of French-speaking Switzerland." They celebrate a unique "liturgy [that] is rooted in that of the early Church and the Jewish tradition." They are NOT Catholic. See here.

    Additionally, the "sisters" have some sort of pagan-looking items for their ecumenical worship service that can be seen here.

  • If you are inclined to research more, some additional resources are provided in the footnote. (1)
Indicative of the root of CGS

These are not outliers, but indicative of the very nature of the Montessori method and especially of the purpose of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which ecumenism "permeates."

The CGS official organizations are proud of these facts, particularly what they call ecumenism. CGS purposefully excludes most aspects of the Catholic Faith, and only puts forth specific pre-approved presentations, in specific pre-approved ways. There is no actual CGS curriculum that you can purchase to review, but a prospective teacher must instead be formed directly by the approved CGS organizations (see FAQ "Is CGS a curriculum that I can purchase")

The bottom line is that CGS is not actually a catechesis program in that it does not actually pass down the Catholic Faith. (See FAQ question "Is CGS Catholic?- They do not say YES)

Why do some families love CGS?

If the CGS teacher is a faithful Catholic who perhaps is ignorant of these insidious errors at the root of CGS, it is possible that children and families could have had what they would have seen as positive personal experiences of CGS, especially the quiet and meditative aspects that they had not experienced in other ways.


Montessori-style quiet meditative ‘play’ on the floor

There are, of course, numerous traditional, actual Catholic methods of quiet meditation that should be taught to families and children instead, such as those of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Liguori, or St. Ignatius of Loyola.

This topic is extremely sensitive among families in some parishes. Criticism against CGS or Montessori garners a similar visceral reaction as to when one criticizes Harry Potter or Yoga. I believe personally that some ladies have invested much of their own time, energy, and emotions into these programs, and thus they associate them with their own persons; they feel personally attacked when one criticizes the CGS pedagogies.

My personal experience

My personal experience with the program spans over a period of four years at four different church locations. I understand that personal experience is anecdotal, but every single experience was characterized by some of the problems indicated above.

Church A: When I told my former spiritual advisor, an diocesan priest, that my then-4 year old was about to start CGS, he told me that CGS may be alright for the littlest ones. However, when they get to be in about 1st or 2nd grade, you have to actually teach them information about the Faith. I was surprised at his statement, since I as a parent assumed that the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd would actually teach catechesis.

good shepherd

No need to explain the ‘Good Shepherd’ is Jesus Christ...

Church B: I enrolled my preschool child in CGS. The catechist was very kind and my child enjoyed the program. However, two years later, the pastor modified the CGS program and added actual catechesis (based on the Baltimore Catechism) to the parish religion program.

Although parents (and the priest) had assumed that the children were receiving catechesis (i.e. training in the truths of the Catholic Faith), they realized that the children coming forward for sacraments did not know either BASIC truths of the faith or basic prayers. CGS does not teach these, or teaches them very minimally.

Church C: Again, two of my children were enrolled in CGS. When I asked the catechist, who was a friend of mine, about whether the children were being taught information about the Catholic Faith such as found in the Baltimore Catechism, she informed me that, no, they do not directly teach aspects of the Faith in a CGS program.

Instead, they do pre-approved lessons, such as reading the story of the Good Shepherd and looking at small replicas of a shepherd and sheep, and allow the children to "discover for themselves that Jesus is actually the Good Shepherd." They never directly tell the children that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, or the majority of other truths of the Faith.


Banalizing the Mass, said Novus-Ordo style

When I asked if she thought that was enough for the children's religious formation, she replied, "Oh no. I of course supplement my own children at home by having them memorize the Baltimore Catechism." Unfortunately, this was not clear to almost all the parents in the class, so many children went through their childhood without being taught the truths of the Faith.

Church D: My good friend decided to go to CGS training to become a catechist. She became uncomfortable when the leaders taught the future-catechists that "the liturgy is fluid." She then did her own research and found much of the resources that I have shared with you above. It was she who first pointed out these insidious errors to me.

In summary

As I researched for citations and screenshots, I became increasingly incensed at the fact that these programs masquerade as Catholic, and that many parents, parishes, priests and teachers believe them to be so. I believed them to be Catholic. Now I believe that they are insidious and that it is important to share this information with others in the Catholic community.

  1. * CGS Exposed, an excellent website with many more documented concerns.
    * Seminar, The Problems of Maria Montessori, Part I.
    * Seminar, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing .

Posted June 27, 2022

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