Program helps children ‘fall in love with God’


Photos by James A. McBride


Jacob, age 6, prays at the altar, which he has prepared by himself, and takes time for prayer. Right, Hadley, age 3, works on a pasting of colored chasubles as she contemplates the seasons of the church year. “Purple for preparation, white for celebration, green for the growing time, red for Pentecost.”

St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Gibbsboro has found children reacting enthusiastically to its religious education program, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

“This catechesis fosters the deep relationship of God and the child since baptism, enabling the child to ‘fall in love with God,’” said Kate Vukicevich, pastoral associate for Lifelong Faith Formation at St. Andrew.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is based on Montessori principles of education that emphasize independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development.

The catechesis takes place in an “atrium,” a place where children can pray, learn and engage in “hands on” work that is chosen by each child.

Vukicevich recalled hearing a 7-year old exclaim, “I love church” as he entered into his work, and a 4-year-old girl asking her mother repeatedly, “When can I go back to the atrium?”

“To have the children learn the great truths of our Catholic faith while experiencing great joy and love for Jesus is more than I have witnessed in 35 years of catechetical ministry,” she said.

For more information, contact the Religious Formation Office of St. Andrew the Apostle at 856-783-0550 or