University of Notre DameUniversity of Notre Dame

McGrath Institute for Church Life

Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Sacramental Imagination and the Senses of the Scriptures


The renewal of catechesis is essential to facilitating the work of the New Evangelization. This catechesis, as St. John Paul II writes, must be permeated with the mystery of Jesus Christ: 

"The primary and essential object of catechesis is...'the mystery of Christ'. Catecheizing is a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions...It is therefore to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal design reaching fulfilment in that Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ's actions and words and of the signs worked by him, for they simulataneously hide and reveal his mystery. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity" (Catechesi Tradendae §5). 

Yet, how do we carry out an approach to catechesis that fosters this intimate communion with the mystery of Jesus?

How do we teach Christians to read the Bible and the Liturgy as signs inviting the Christian toward a contemplative encounter with the Word made flesh? 

The McGrath Institute for Church Life invites catechists and Catholic school teachers to our 2017 Catechesis of the Shepherd Symposium on fostering the sacramental imagination through teaching the senses of the Scriptures.

Using the pedagogical and theological method developed by Maria Montessori and Sofia Cavalletti, we nourish the imagination of the Church's educators in faith to develop a sacramental approach to catechesis that meets the deepest needs of the modern person.

Questions that we will consider include:

  • What are the senses of the Scriptures, and how does learning to study the Scriptures through these senses lead us toward a sacramental view of the world?
  • What methods might we use in catechetical settings, including in Catholic schools, to foster this encounter with the Scriptures?
  • What role does prayer play in the study of the biblical narrative?


Every participant in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Symposium will receive a biblical formation grounded in the liturgy, as well as a series of pedagogical techiques to use within various catechetical settings or in the classroom. We will also make use of liturgical and secular art, chapels, liturgical manuscripts, and all that is available on the campus of the University of Notre Dame to facilitate this formation in the sacramental teaching of the Scriptures. 

Lastly, students will be able to encounter a copy of the Saint John's Bible, which we will use both in our study and prayer together. 

Morning lectures will be given by the following faculty throughout the United States:

  • Dr. Catherine Cavadini, Assistant Professional Specialist and Assistant Chair of the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame 
  • Ximena DeBroeck, Assistant Professor of Sacred Scripture, St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore
  • Dr. Timothy P. O'Malley, Associate Professional Specialist and Director of the Center for Liturgy, University of Notre Dame
  • Dr. Boyd Taylor Coolman, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Boston College
  • Dr. Anthony Pagliarini, Assistant Professional Specialist and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame

In the afternoon, we will develop various pedagogical techniques by working with calligraphers, art historians, manuscripts, and through learning monastic and contemplative methods of prayer. 

In the evening, we will pray together around various parables that inspired the work of Sofia Cavalletti. 


The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Symposium runs from the evening of June 26, 2017 until noon on June 30, 2017


  • Early registration (before April 1st): $265.00 
  • Regular registration (betwen April 2nd and May 15th): $295.00
  • Late registration (May 16th and after): $320.00


To register for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, click here.  For more information, click here.

Birth of Christ, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.