Post written by Catechist Nicki Johnston.
Last month I graduated from Level III CGS formation. It was a beautiful culmination of six years of reading, studying, writing and organizing album pages, and all of the logistics that go along with being away from my family for an entire Saturday each month. But even more important than all of this doing is the being involved in his beautiful method. There’s a reason they call it “formation” instead of “training,” and over the course of six years I have been shaped and formed by my leaders, my fellow catechists, the children I’ve been blessed to serve and the Good Shepherd himself.
Marking the end of my formal education in this method is bittersweet. It’s a relief – perhaps more to my husband and children than to myself – to no longer have this commitment on our calendar each month or the assigned readings that proceed and album pages that follow each day of formation. But I’m also, in a way, grieving the end of this six-year season of my life and the life-giving monthly retreat, as I came to think of it.
This time of transition has also given me an opportunity to reflect on my own CGS journey.
Like so many others, I first learned of CGS through the Women’s Bible Study at Holy Trinity. When my oldest son was still in the nursery, I had a chance to observe an Atrium for the first time. In that very moment, I heard the Good Shepherd call my name, and I never looked back despite all of the life that has happened over the course of six years.
Six years is a significant portion of my life; it is two-thirds of my motherhood. When I was first called to be a catechist, I had two children. Now, I have twice as many. When I began formation my oldest was just three, and now I’m homeschooling a 3rd and a 1st grader, both of whom received the sacraments through the beautiful CGS retreat method. I spent two years of formation taking notes while nursing babies and changing diapers in the back of the room, and I finished my final year of Level III wearing a mask and social distancing because of the pandemic.
What remained consistent throughout my six years, despite the changes in my own family life and in the world, is that from the moment the Good Shepherd called me, he provided me with everything I needed to give myself fully to his invitation.
Now I find myself in a moment of transition. My graduation from CGS formation has coincided with a change of parish for my family, which also means the heartache of leaving behind the Atrium that I helped start four years ago. I’ll be serving at a different parish and leading a different level, and I don’t know yet what else the future has in store. But I trust that as long as I make quiet time in my life to listen to the Good Shepherd, he will lead me out. And when I need him most, he will carry me on his shoulders.