Here at St. Joseph, our Kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 3rd graders take part in a program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd(CGS). The 1st atrium was opened in Italy in 1954 following the methods developed by Maria Montessori. Maria believed that even the youngest child was capable of both a conscious and intimate relationship with God. The children work in a prepared environment(atrium) which is based on age-appropriate Scripture passages and liturgical signs that nurture their relationship with God. The program balances exposure to our liturgy and the richness of our communal sacramental life with reading the Bible. Our program begins with presenting the New Testament to the children because it is the foundation of our faith. The youngest learn about Jesus and the beauty and wonder of the Kingdom of God through carefully chosen Bible verses that foster a deep love for Jesus. As they grow older they are encouraged to think about their personal responsibility to maintain this relationship with God and their social responsibility in the world. Each presentation has specific materials designed to draw the child into the Biblical and liturgical themes. These materials are always available to the children during their work time so they have additional opportunity to absorb the lessons.