Sofia Cavalletti, co-founder of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, dies at 94

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August 31, 2011

Sofia Cavalletti, a founder of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Christian formation curriculum widely used in Episcopal and other churches, died at her home in Rome, Italy, on Aug. 23, according to an Aug. 25 release from the National Association of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (NACGS). She was 94.

Cavalletti, along with her colleague Gianna Gobbi, began to work with children's religious formation in 1954. She was first inspired to understand children's spirituality after a discussion over a passage of scripture with several youngsters. "The children's engagement and response to the discussion caused her to seek a deeper understanding of the relationship between God and the child," said the release.

Cavalletti and 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.

Cavalletti was born August 21, 1917 to a prominent Roman Catholic family. She received her degree in Hebrew and comparative Semitic languages from the Universita La Sapienza in Rome. In addition to her work with children, she contributed to several editions of the Bible (Old Testament), translating Isaiah, Leviticus, Ruth, Esther, Judith, and Proverbs, and to international publications on biblical studies. She was also a specialist in interfaith studies, especially pertaining to the Jewish-Christian relationship.

She wrote several books, including The Religious Potential of the Child, Six to Twelve Years, The Good Shepherd and the Child: A Joyful Journey and, most recently, Ways to Nurture the Relationship with God, with co-author Patricia Coulter. Cavalletti also wrote numerous articles, many of which are found in NACGS's annual journal.

Cavalletti also wrote History's Golden Thread, a book on the study of salvation history, and Living Liturgy, on liturgical studies. Both of these books have been revised in Italian and will soon be republished in English as a two-volume set illustrating the link of Bible and liturgy, according to the NACGS release. Upon their re-publication in English they will be titled History of the Kingdom of God: From Creation to Parousia, Volume 1 and History of the Kingdom of God: Liturgy and the Building of the Kingdom, Volume 2