The Good Shepherd Catechesis in Canada – A Short History

Founding Members of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Association of Canada in 2005

Patricia Coulter – Advisor for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd / Archdiocese of Toronto
Christine Ennis – Educational Assistant
Kathleen Ennis – Director of the Good Shepherd Catechesis for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto
Ewa Kuczewski – Book-keeper
Paula Mugan – Teacher
Susan Perna – Director of the Atrium at St. Benedict’s Church, Etobicoke
Carolyne-Marie Petch – Administrative Assistant
Patricia Stenton – Director of School of Dance
Joseph Tanel – Teacher
Nancy Wood – Lay Pastoral Assistant
Deborah Zeni – Physician


Time Line - (not all events or milestones are recorded here)

1975Patricia Coulter travels to Rome in the fall to begin formation as a catechists under the direction of Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi. Patricia is the first Canadian to train in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
1977Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, at the invitation of Fr. William O’Brien welcomes the catechesis as sacramental preparation for children preparing for First Eucharist under the direction of Patricia Coulter. This initiative continues for four years.
1978Sofia Cavelletti at the invitation of the Dean of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) offers a two week overview of the Catechesis followed by a one week workshop directed by Patricia Coulter in Toronto.
1979The first atrium in Canada starts at USMC for children preparing for First Eucharist and Reconcillation. It also serves as a field education centre for theology students and religious education teachers.
1980Toronto parishes request catechist formation programmes. Adults are welcomed into an informal training programme with Patricia Coulter.
1981The Good Shepherd Centre is opened at St. Phillip Neri at the invitation of Brother Ignatius Feaver and Father Paul Duplessie. Parents and teachers come to assist with the children in the atrium.
1982Rosemary Simmons is the first Canadian to take a Level I course in the United States.
1984Sofia Cavalletti travels to Canada again, this time meeting with Bishops Marcel Gervais and Aloysius Ambrozic to plan the ongoing development of the Catechesis in Canada. Kathleen and Chris Ennis, Susan Perna, Alice-May Kuba, Rosemary Simmons, Beatriz Thornton, and Ivanna Todd participate in formation at St. Joseph’s Morrow Park in Willowdale (north Toronto) at the invitation of Sr. Rosella Dowling CSJ.
1986Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi offers a Level I course to Canadians at St. Joseph’s Wellesley, Toronto. St. Benedict’s, in Rexdale, welcomes children into their newly created atrium. Father Tom McKillop invites parishioners to start an atrium in the choir loft of Holy Name Parish in Toronto.
1987The second part of the Level I course started in ‘86 is completed by Sofia and Gianna at St. Joseph’s Wellesley during the summer.
Paula Mugan starts St. Francis Neighbourhood Atrium in London welcoming children into her ‘home’ atrium.
1988Michèle Brennan opens the first French-speaking Atrium linked to Sacre Coeur Parish, it continues for two years. Paula Mugan, Joe and Kathleen Tanel spend the year in Rome with Sofia doing Level II. The ‘Atrium Advisory Council’ (AAC) in the Archdiocese of Toronto is formed in response to the catechists’ desire to form into a community that supports and mentors one other.
1989The Good Shepherd Centre at St. Phillip Neri closes and reopens following the gracious invitation of Father Denaro at St. Norbert’s Parish.
1990The University of St Michael’s College (USMC) Continuing Education Office and the Toronto Archdiocese Catholic Office of Religious Education (CORE) co-sponsor an introductory adult formation programme over five evenings.
1991The first Canadian-led Level I course is offered by USMC in partnership with CORE and the Good Shepherd Catechesis Certificate Programme is ratified by the USMC Senate. Michèle Brennan and Cathy Kosior start an atrium in Willowdale at Blessed Trinity Church while Ellen Marchildon and Anne Wiley establish an atrium at Our Lady of Sorrows in Toronto.
1992The Good Shepherd Certificate Programme finds a home at USMC in Teefy Hall.
1994The catechists in the Toronto area initiate an effort to form a Canadian Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd but do not succeed. The AAC ceases meeting; fellowship continues at individual atriums. The Level II of the Certificate Programme is offered at USMC. Patricia Stenton opens the first Atrium north of Toronto in Perkinsfield offering the catechesis in both French and English. This atrium moves to St. Margaret’s in Midland in 1999.
1995–1999The work of the Good Shepherd Catechesis begins to blossom. Atriums open in towns around Toronto as well as in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal. The first Canadian Level III formation course is facilitated by US catechists at USMC.
2000Jubilee Year. Basic and Advanced Certificates are presented at the Faculty of Theology Convocation. Brother Ignatius Feaver leads an Advent retreat for catechists and we rejoice in all the gifts we have received through the Catechesis. We start again to talk of building community by forming into an association.
2001–2004The Director of Religious Education in the Hamilton Diocese, Ed Krupica, starts a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Advisory Council with the aim of establishing new atriums throughout the diocese. Mentorship of newly minted catechists proceeds at established atriums such as St. Benedict, Our Lady of Sorrows and Holy Cross in Georgetown. The number of atriums continues to grow. Both Anglicans and Lutherans are added to our community of catechists. At the Advent retreat, discussion revolves around forming of a Canadian national association. The formation leaders form into the ‘core’ team, define the certification process and welcome members. More atriums open in Toronto, Mississauga, Belleville, Orillia, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge. An invitation is extended to representatives of all atriums to join in the formation of an association that will bring catechists into community with one another and support the work of CGS in Canada.
2005The ‘Founding Members’ work tirelessly on developing an organizational structure for the association and host the first ‘Gathering’ at St. Joseph’s Wellesley, the site of the first CGS course given in Canada. Seventy catechists and friends of the catechesis joyfully celebrate the birth of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Association of Canada and agree on our mission statement, purpose and objectives.
2006The Canadian government officially recognizes the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Association of Canada as an incorporated charitable organization. The first AGM is held in Waterloo during our second Gathering.
2007Formation takes off! Level I courses are offered for the first time in Waterloo, Ottawa and North Bay in addition to 2 in Toronto concurrent with Level II and Level III at USMC. Kathleen Ennis takes on responsibilities for the Good Shepherd Catechesis at the Archdiocese of Toronto.
2008Dr. Ann Garrido from Aquinus Institute, St. Louis University is the keynote speaker at the CGSAC Gathering. The establishment of the ‘Ed Krupica’ Scholarship Fund marks CGSAC’s appreciation of his service to the children and catechists of Canada.

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