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SPRED - Special Religious Development

SPREDSpecial Religious Development
Faith Formation and Sacramental Inclusion
For Children and Adults with Special Needs

What is SPRED? SPRED is an Agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago commissioned by the Cardinal to assist parishes in their responsibility to welcome children and adults with developmental disabilities or alternative ways of learning. As a resource to parishes, SPRED provides materials, observation, training, enrichment opportunities, mentoring and a network of support to volunteers and families.
What is a SPRED Community? Up to 8 volunteers from the parish agree to complete the SPRED training courses to learn how to provide appropriate religious formation for children or adults with special needs. Three of these volunteers form a core team to secure leadership for the group. The 8 volunteers then form a small community of faith – people who enter into friendship and offer one-on-one partnership to 6 friends with special needs. The volunteers decide on an age group depending on the greatest need of the parish and the SPRED network to which they belong. SPRED communities fall into the following age groupings: 6-10; 11-16; 17-21 and 22+. The faith community agrees to follow the Standards of Affiliation with the SPRED Agency.
What is the SPRED process? The goal of SPRED is to help the children or adults with disabilities develop an awareness of God in their lives; an awareness of themselves as persons of dignity who are loved by God; and an awareness of themselves as an integral part of the parish community as well as the entire Church. This is accomplished through meaningful relationships within a small community of faith. The quiet, sacred place; the bonds of friendship; the sharing of life experiences; the proclamation of the Word; and liturgical/sacramental celebrations help each person discover the gifts and the needs of every member of the small community. To become aware of God in our midst is to believe.
What is the time commitment? Volunteer catechists meet for 24 sessions throughout a year. Twelve sessions are designed for the volunteers to prepare for the 12 alternating sessions that they will share with their SPRED partners. The calendar is drawn up to respond to the schedules of the volunteers as well as the SPRED friends.

Who can volunteer? Anyone who is 21 or older and is willing to share friendship and faith with others from the community can participate as a catechist. No prior experience with persons with disabilities is needed. Training and observation is offered throughout the year to help volunteers to become comfortable with the method.
Communities of Friendship
Communities that welcome friends with intellectual & developmental disabilities
A place of peace & justice for all
An environment of harmony and respect
A process developed to honor persons with special needs and provide appropriate faith formation and sacramental preparation
Time set aside to become more aware of God’s presence and deepen faith
Time to reflect on life, to share with others
… a time to pray
A place of joy, laughter and celebration
Knights of Columbus
One weekend a year, after each of the Masses our SPRED volunteers sell tootsie rolls for the Knights of Columbus. The Knights donate very generously to our program for Special Religious Education for those with disabilities. We thank them for their support!