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.

Your donations allow us to continue our own research and produce these papers.

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The Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher, an Interfaith Approach - XXIV, May 2017

Dr. Maria Montessoir included chapters in many of her books on the need for the spiritual preparation of the teacher. Age doesn't adequately qualify us to guide children, nor does a course. She writes that humility, patience, observation, and calm are needed, but she does not offer practices to achieve or maintain these qualities. This paper offers a practice from each of five different faiths that may be used or adapted to help us with our personal spiritual preparation to serve children.

Living the Light: Gospel Nonviolence and Neurobiology - Issue XXIII, May 2016

This fourth article in the series of Living the LIght explores how our brains have developed for empathy and kindness, and how we can nurture these traits throughout childhood.




Living the Light: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Presentations - Issue XXII, April 2016

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.

Living the Light: Theologians and Scripture Scholars on Gospel Nonviolence - XXI, February 2016

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.


Living the Light: Dr. Montessori Education to Life as Education to Peace - Issue XX, February 2016

 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.


Building a Foundation for Interfaith Understanding - Issue XIX, June 2014

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.

Children, Signs, and Spiritual Literacy: An Interfaith Experience - XVII, April 2012

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.

Children and Eucharist in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Traditions - XVI, April 2011

Children and Eucharist by Genelda Woggon and Ann Garrido "Children and Eucharist" explores the history of welcoming children to the Eucharist in the Catholic and Anglican communions. Receiving the Eucharist has been connected at various times in history to Baptism, Confirmation and/or Reconciliation for both children and adults. These practices are connected to practical, political, pastoral or theological considerations. Ann Garrido carefully traces how these practices have played out for children in the Catholic Church. Complementing Ann's research, Genelda Woggon helps us to see the young child's readiness and desire to fully participate in the Eucharist, and her experience with this during the last fifty years in the Episcopal church. As you read this paper, keep in mind Christ's own desire to be fully united with all people, young and old. Did his eyes also rest on the youngest child in the room when he said, "Take and eat, this is my body...this is my blood" (Matthew 28, 27-28)?

The Foundation of the Human Being - Issue XV, January 2009

Dr. Silvana Montanaro Quattrocchi provides much food for thought about how a child’s first years after birth are so important for the foundation of the human being. Offering

five practical and free ideas to make the most of these critical years, she reminds us of the importance of protecting and defending the child’s great inner powers.

The paper was originally presented at the 25th International Montessori Congress in Sydney, Australia, July 2005 and orginally published by the Association Montessori Internationale in Communications 2006/I.

Reading the Resurrection Narratives with Children - XIII, June 2007

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.

Catechesis in an Age of Religious Pluralism - XI, April 2012

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.


The Moral Formation of Children Ages 0-12 - Issue IV, May 2000

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).

Children and Theology - Issue I, January 2000

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.