Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Closing the Church School Year, Part IV

Closing the Church School Year: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Shelley Finkler, Director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. John Orthodox Cathedral, Eagle River, Alaska and Formation Leader at The National Association of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (USA) shares how her parish closes the church school year.

“Our parish, St John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, uses Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for Church School. We have been developing the program since 2009 and opened our first atrium in 2010. The year ends with celebration! First, we celebrate Pascha, then Baptism, and on the last day we celebrate Pentecost in anticipation of the feast. The children are invited to contemplate the new color of the Pentecost season: green for growing in the Holy Spirit and the gifts that the Holy Spirit brings for all of us. Then we have a party outside with treats and games. 
We then store our atrium materials to protect them from summer dust and grime and that's it for the end of the year. Most of our efforts with parents and families, such as recruiting volunteers, training catechists and making materials, are done in August. Summer in Alaska comes quickly and is short and precious, so we wait to ask people to think about commitments for the coming school year until summer is nearly over. We have found that asking for volunteer commitments in May or June usually evokes a "No" or "Ask me later" response. So, we wait and have much more success in August. Church School volunteers are also usually ready to take a break from that activity and are less receptive to fresh requests for further volunteering. 
There is very little paperwork with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and no new paper or products need ordering for the coming school year, so that particular piece of Church School is not an issue requiring forward planning. The only planning needed by the Director is arranging for volunteers to attend training courses. This particular task usually occurs during midwinter and Lent, not at the end of the school year, so people have time to plan.”

For more information on CGS, contact Shelley at or visit The National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (USA) at: 

Also, for information on upcoming CGS training sessions, and to be part of the online CGS discussion with other Orthodox Christian Catechists, join the Orthodox Christian CGS Catechist Facebook Group at:  

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