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Noëlle Le Duc and Her Pedagogy: Serving the Child’s Act of Faith, Part I
Noëlle Le Duc, a member of the Carmelite secular institute Notre Dame de Vie, was a pre-school and kindergarten teacher who worked with three to seven-year old children, in order to awaken their faith. Her work with children formed a foundation for the later development of the Come Follow Me program. She believed that even very young children can enter into a lively personal relationship with God and live this out through prayer, as well as in all the dimensions of human life. This relationship grounds catechesis and allows it to bear lasting fruit. In this article, we will begin to examine the baptized child’s capability for a dynamic relationship with God. A Powerful Inspiration at the Beginning Before we examine Le Duc’s contributions, we must first understand the Carmelite founder of the Notre Dame de Vie Institute she entered in the 1950s, Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, whose cause for beatification is currently being examined. Fr. Marie-Eugene was a spiritual master, who highlighted especially the treasures that come with baptism. Fr. Marie-Eugene believed that catechesis must not only teach the truth about God, but it also has to “give the sense of God” and to teach people how they can “put into practice” the capacities given by grace. He thus explains what the catechist must do: the catechist has to awaken the child to all the supernatural realities present in his soul; therefore, it is necessary to teach the child how to put the theological virtues into practice. Then the catechist must foster in the child the habits inscribed in the depth of his soul, where the reflexes that guide human nature are mainly to be found. The purity and the simplicity of the child increase his capacity to put into practice this “supernatural organism” of the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are integral to the working of baptismal grace. The catechist has to teach the child how to find God, to have regular personal encounters with him, and to remain in his presence. Thus faith becomes keener and penetrates more deeply into God. In this way the child acquires incomparable spiritual riches that will benefit him his whole life. Emphasizing the act of believing, Fr. Marie-Eugene challenges catechists: what pedagogy can bring children to God and help them adhere to him in faith? How can the catechist help them discover God as a living and loving person, whom we can trust and who wants to enter into dialogue with us?