Occasional Papers

Occasional Papers

Occasional Papers is a collection of papers exploring the theology and spirituality of children.

As a gift for your support, as well as to encourage the ongoing study of our catechesis community, we are now offering all of our Occasional Papers for free. These papers have been written with you in mind and cover a variety of topics relevant to your work. Peruse the list of papers and choose a few you'd like to read as you begin the the new catechetical year.

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Building a Foundation for Interfaith Understanding

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is unswervingly and faithfully Christocentric. However, the context of this catechesis is increasingly a world in which we encounter people of other faiths throughout our lives. Preparation for this reality lies in a careful and loving presentation of our Christian tradition that does not preclude God’s love and respect for people of other traditions. Anita Vincent, who grew up in India, invites catechists for children ages 3-9 to consider the interfaith implications of the presentations of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Level I and Level II.

Living the Light: Dr. Montessori Education to Life as Education to Peace

 The call of Jesus to nonviolence is clear. As catechists we model and proclaim that love in age-appropriate ways. This paper is the first of four that explores gifts that help us in this task. Peg Burns introduces us to the legacy of Maria Montessori as a peacemaker, who understood that educating children in a manner that respected their dignity and developmental needs is a foundation of peace in the world.


Living the Light: Theologians and Scripture Scholars on Gospel Nonviolence

This is the second article in the series Living the Light: Gospel Nonviolence in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This article uses the lens of theologians, three of whom are scripture scholars (Rev. McKenzie, Dr. Lohfink, and Rev. Meier), a Mennonite (Dr. Hershberger), an early Church historian (Dr. Sider), a moral theologian (Rev. Haring), and a Melkite pacifist (Rev. McCarthy) to consider the nonviolent Way of Jesus.


Catechesis in an Age of Religious Pluralism

Children of today live in a political and religious world that is very different from the one in which we were raised. The world has become a global village. Many of our children have opportunities to meet and befriend children from other faiths in their schools or neighborhoods. This paper looks at the commonalities in approach to the spiritual journey between the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Eastern religions. It also looks at areas where catechists need to be particularly sensitive so that we might encourage our children to appreciate the presence of God in the lives of persons outside the Christian tradition.


Living the Light: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Presentations

Jesus rejected using violence for any purpose, which always hurts a beloved child of God. Jesus lived the Merciful Love of God and taught a way for other humans to do the same.  With Dr. Montessori’s approach to nonviolent nurturing of children and a scholarly understanding of Jesus’ rejection of violence we continue our quest. Now we look at  Gospel Nonviolence in the presentations of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Children, Signs, and Spiritual Literacy: An Interfaith Experience

Sacred Signs are part of every faith tradition, facilitating the human encounter with the Holy. These signs are of great help to children as they begin to seek the Holy within the tradition of their culture or family. Learning to enjoy and read these signs develops a kind of “spiritual literacy”, preparing them for further study. By age nine and up, this literacy can also help older children to grasp the signs of other traditions, building both love and respect for persons of other faiths.

The Moral Formation of Children Ages 0-12

This paper extracts principles of moral formation from the catechetical work of Sofia Cavalletti and the pedagogical work of Maria Montessori. Together the work of these women yields the following elements of moral formation: Preparation of the heart-children must be in relationship with God and others to act with love. This preparation begins with life, long before the formation of conscience begins. Preparation of the body-the body can carry out the choice of the heart and mind only if self-discipline is present. A strong connection between will and action is fostered by the Montessori Method’s use of choice, freedom, and movement. Preparation of the mind-at the age of six the facility for judgment, the conscience, begins to be formed. Help is offered with moral prophecies, parables, and maxims from the Scriptures.

(Presented at  Pace Universtity conference on the Ethics of Parenting 1999, American Montessori Society Conference 2005, Children’s Spirituality Conference 2016).

Reading the Resurrection Narratives with Children

During the 6-12-year-old years of development, the child's mind looks at the world through new windows of logic, reason, and expanded personal experience. Reading the resurrection narratives with children in this age group serves well the needs of the children during this period intheir lives — honoring their new capacities and questions. But, it also serves well the needs of the larger Church —allowing the Church to grasp afresh both the shocking and healing nature of these ancient stories that lie at the very
center of the Christian faith. Garrido examines the resurrection narratives using the keen insights of 6-12-year-old-children. Their insights lead us to what is most essential in the resurrection stories and help us to see how these stories illustrate the much larger story of the kingdom of God.
The paper was presented at Weaving Our Gifts: A Conference of Catechists, October 2006.

Children and Theology

Theology is “faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm). But in the 20th Century theologians have learned to pay attention to whose faith is seeking understanding of what experience of God. These components significantly nuance theology. Theology that incorporates the insights of women, the poor, people with disabilities, the Black Church, or people from around the world, will be a fuller, richer understanding of God than one impoverished by a narrow perspective. Children also have a significant contribution.

This paper argues that a theology of children does exist and ought to be seriously considered. Maresca uses principles of Aquinas to support the idea that children contribute to theology. While children do not develop a formal and systematic theology they are full of faith, and seeking to understand their physical and metaphysical world. The paper goes on to explore
three characteristics of children that create their unique perspective of God: essentiality, wonder and joy.