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Carol Dittberner Collection on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Identifier: SC-013

Content Description

The collection includes books, pamphlets, newsletters, journals, video and audio recordings, and three-dimensional objects from Carol Dittberner. The collection has been enriched by an additional gift of books and journals from the national office of the United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. As of May 2023, the collection is expected to grow as Carol Dittberner delivers additional materials.


  • circa 1955-2022

Biographical / Historical

Educator Carol Dittberner began her career as a Montessori guide after receiving her diploma at the 38th Indian Montessori Training Course in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India in 1974. The following year, Dittberner met Sofia Cavalletti, an Italian theologian, at the international congress of the Association Montessori Internationale held in Minneapolis. Cavalletti, in collaboration with Montessori educator Gianna Gobbi, had developed a method of religious education for children based on Montessori pedagogy. Their method became known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). Inspired by this encounter, Dittberner completed the CGS certification program as taught by Cavalletti. Dittberner's additional training includes a master's degree in human development from St. Mary’s University and the Diploma from the Assistants to Infancy training at the Opera Nazionale Montessori in Rome, Italy (2006).

An essential part of CGS is a spiritual learning environment called the "atrium." As described by the United States Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, "The atrium can be compared to a retreat house facilitating recollection and silence. The atrium is a place for religious life, for community and worship—-not a classroom for instruction. [It is] a place of meaningful work through which the child can have a conversation with God." Dittberner established the first Twin Cities atrium in 1982 at the Church of St. Frances Cabrini in Minneapolis. In the atrium at Cabrini, she worked with hundreds of children, from toddlers through 4th grade. Her own children, who were adopted from the Missionaries of Charity in India, were among the first to participate. She also brought the catechesis to children who were hospitalized, some with terminal illness.

From 1982 to her retirement in 2020, Dittberner worked tirelessly to advance the practice of CGS. During the late 1980s, Dittberner began work as a formation leader, developing and providing adult training for the Catechesis program. Dittberner collaborated with Catherine Maresca to bring the CGS method to the American Episcopal Church, where it has been widely adopted. (CGS has also been applied in Jewish and Muslim communities.) When the sisters of the Missionaries of Charities made the decision to train their entire community in CGS, Dittberner travelled to Uganda, Rwanda, Uzbekistan, Trinidad, and Sri Lanka, quickly becoming one of their most beloved teachers. She has also conducted courses in Australia, Kenya, and New Zealand. In addition, Dittberner has provided leadership in various roles as a member of the National Association for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

(This biographical statement was adapted from information on the United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd website at and from Millie Dosh, "Carol Dittberner - A Cabrini Angel," in The Cabrini Communicator (no. 12, October 2020), pp. 6-11.)


39 books

0.54 Linear Feet (Includes .6 linear feet of newsletters and journals; .25 linear feet of booklet and pamphlets; and .04 linear feet of print documents)

3 digital files (Includes 2 DVDs and one compact disc)

4 artifact (Includes one figurine, two photographic prints, and one poster)

Language of Materials


Carol Dittberner Collection on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
In Progress
Amy Shaw
May 2, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the St. Catherine University Special Collections Repository

St. Catherine University
Archives and Special Collections
2004 Randolph Avenue
St. Paul MN 55105 U.S.A.