The Atrium recalls the place in the early Christian basilica where the first Christians received their formation in the faith. In the Atrium, children can respond to a holy relationship, first proclaimed to them through Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
The Atrium contains simple yet beautiful materials that children use to draw near to God. For the child, the atrium is a place of preparation for involvement in the larger worshipping community.
There are many materials found in the Atrium, collectively called ‘works’. Most are made of natural materials like wood, glass, cloth and clay. Every Atrium’s works are unique as these are often handmade by the catechists and helpers of that particular Atrium.
How do these materials help the religious life of children? For an adult, he or she can take a passage from the Bible and read it again and again, pondering its meaning and responding perhaps in prayer to God. But a child needs another way.
In an atrium the child can ponder a biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy by taking the materials and working with it e.g. placing wood figures of sheep in a sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting sculpted apostles around a Last Supper table, or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used for the Eucharist.
Older children who do read often copy parables from the Bible, lay in order written prayers from the rite of baptism, or label a long time line showing the history of the kingdom of God.
There are a variety of works in the Atrium that cover different aspects of the faith including:
- Liturgy – the signs of Christ & His Church in the Mass & the Sacraments
- Scripture – the life & teachings of Jesus and how we should live in light of the Word
- Geography – Christ in our history and world
- History of the Kingdom of God – the story of God’s ongoing salvation of man from Creation, through Redemption until Parousia.
- Prayer – our response individually and as a community
- Practical Life – care for the environment & others, preparation for other works
Generally, a session at our atrium begins with prayer following which the catechist may present a new work to the children. The children are then given free time to choose any work they have been presented with before.
It is during this work time, as many catechists have observed, that children begin to internalise the presentations shown to them. This is the prayer time for the child and the Holy Spirit uses the senses of the child – sight, touch, smell, hearing – to speak to the child at a deeper level.
The session ends with the children being called to the Prayer Corner for a time of prayer in response to their time in the Atrium.
The Atrium is located on the top floor of St Joseph’s Community Hall.
Click here to see more photos of our Atrium
Click here to read about observations of the children at our Atrium
For more information on enrolling your child in the Atrium, please check out the ‘Contact’ page.