"The Song of the Catechist"

Keynote Address
2021 National Gathering

As the world was entering into a global quarantine last year, the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization presented the Church with a great gift, the Directory for Catechesis. This document shed new light on the work of catechesis, and, even more importantly, on being a catechist because it “seems urgent to recover their ministry in the Christian community…only catechists who live out their ministry as a vocation can contribute to the efficacy of catechesis.”  


In May of this year, Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio  on the ministry of the Catechist saying “Catechists are called first to be expert in the pastoral service of transmitting the faith as it develops through its different stages from the initial proclamation of the kerygma to the instruction that presents our new life in Christ and prepares for the sacraments of Christian initiation, and then to the ongoing formation that can allow each person to give an accounting of the hope within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).”


These documents are cause for joy among catechists in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd since they each proclaim what we have been singing with Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi for more than 60 years. When Sofia died, the announcement went out inviting the international community of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to sing the Magnificat in loving memory of her life. There could be no better response. This handmaid of the Lord, had sung this prayer of our Holy Mother, Mary, throughout her life with such joy and taught many children and adults around the world how to sing it with their lives as well.  Join Mary Mirrione for a look at these documents in light of our work in CGS.

Mary Mirrione

Keynote Speaker
2021 Annual Gathering

Mary was sent to explore the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 1992 by her pastor, who had seen an atrium at another parish. Falling in love with the work, she began to build the environment with a small team of catechists. She discovered the joy with which the children received the announcement of the Gospel and saw a deep, unique relationship between God and the child.

Taking to heart the National Association vision to “make the work accessible to all,” she led a team of catechists and parents and began building atria for the service of their children at St Anne’s in Gilbert, Arizona. As she formed the atria, Gilbert quickly changed from a small bilingual farming community to the fastest growing city in the country. As the Director of the Atrium she found herself constantly faced with the question “Is this work for all our children? “ As the atria grew to hold 1800 children, the answer was always “Yes.” She thought not about “Can we?” but rather “How can we?" At St. Anne's, Mary developed a vision that goes beyond parish borders, forming friendships which reach out both nationally and internationally. Although she no longer serves on the staff at St. Anne’s ,Mary remains a catechist and formation leader in her parish.

Mary has been a formation leader since 1997, giving three to four courses a year at home and abroad. While participating in the international The Word, Eucharist and the Child conference in Assisi in 1997, Mary heard of Marie Christlieb’s work with Totonac people of Puebla, Mexico and their great need. Mary returned home and the next summer she and members of her community traveled to Puebla to see how they might help and build an atrium, but discovered the best way to serve the people was to send three of the Totonac to Rome to study with Sofia herself. While there she has found that living with people in a third world environment teaches so much about Jesus’ love for poor and the least. Since that time she has also served as formation leader to those in the Diocese of Brownsville who serve the children of migrant workers, the Diocese of Toledo with En Camino Ministry who serve the migrants there, and the San Carlo Apache Reservation in Arizona. She and Lourdes Vazquez also worked with The Franciscan Friars in Honduras, the Missionaries of Charity in the United States, Western Europe, the Philippines and India and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN. 

Mary has written of her missionary work in the  Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She has also written of her parish work and having  a Bilingual Atrium. Mary also developed and directed the DVD, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Where a Child Can Fall in Love with God.

Mary served on the Board of the National Association from 2000-2006. She was the first Development Committee chair, a founding member of CGS Fund Advisory Board and introduced the publication of The Found Coin. She was also a member of first cohort at Aquinas Institute to receive a Masters in Pastoral Ministry in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in January of 2010. She has worked extensively as an advocate for CGS in the Diocese of Phoenix since 1999 as catechist, a Director of Children’s Catechesis, and since 2003, as a presenter and formation leader for diocesan catechists and catechetical leaders. . She is a consultant for the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catechism. 

Mary has been happily married for 45 years and delights in the friendship and love of her husband. She has three daughters. The youngest was the only child to live the atrium experience; the oldest has served as a level one catechist. All three are grown with children of their own.  As a grandmother, Mary has prepared an atrium in her home for her 6 grandchildren.  As a native of Brooklyn New York, she loves the big city. She now lives in and loves the desert of Arizona and the dirt roads of the poorest of the poor. While Mary’s passion is for the work of CGS, she enjoys  traveling anywhere in the world, and cooking big Italian family dinners on the weekends with her family and friends.