This Summer, the National Association of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd announced the that one of the founders of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Dr. Sofia Cavalletti, 94, died peacefully in her home in Rome, Italy. She died on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
Sofia Cavalletti is certainly one of the most significant figures for catechesis, and in particular children’s catechesis, in this century. Dr. Cavalletti, together with her colleague Gianna Gobbi, began to work with children in 1954 in the area of children’s religious formation. She was first inspired to understand children’s spirituality following a discussion over a passage of scripture with several children. The children’s engagement and response to the discussion caused her to seek a deeper understanding of the relationship between God and the child.
Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi collaborated for more than 50 years listening to and observing children in the context of a prepared religious environment called an atrium, basing their approach on the principles of education developed by Maria Montessori. What children revealed to them was, above all, their profound capacities for relationship with God. Children from very diverse geographical, social and cultural environments responded to this relationship with a profound sense of joy which, Sofia Cavalletti said, “puts them in a particular state of peace, such as to make us think that this relationship satisfies a vital need within children.”