It's an honor to be included in the Parish Profile feature of the summer issue of Spirt magazine, a pulibcation of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Special Religious Development (SPRED)
Special Religious Development (SPRED) is a growing ministry that welcomes children and adults with developmental disabilities and leads them toward a deeper awareness of God in their lives, an awareness of themselves as persons of dignity who are deeply loved by God, and an awareness of their integral relationship to the Parish community and the entire church. This is accomplished by meaningful one-on-one relationships within a small faith community.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help started its SPRED program in January 2000, with one SPRED group meeting Monday evenings. Currently our program has expanded to two groups. Our group welcomes six- to ten-year-olds to gather each week on either Monday or Wednesday evenings. The process of SPRED is symbolic or experiential catechesis and sacramental initiation for those who may not otherwise be able to fully benefit from more traditional forms of religious education offered in an instructional model.
An Evening with our friends
The SPRED process, whether it is with children, adolescents, young adults or adults, is the same throughout the archdiocese, the country and world.
The first part of the evening is the preparation time. We work with clay, sand, paints, flowers, water, musical instruments, and photographs of nature. Through concentrated work with materials that are real, each person is led to an awareness of the bond that exists between self and others, creation and all of life.
At the end of preparation time, we finish our work and move into the gathering circle. This circle is the link between our activities and the Celebration portion of our evening.
n the Celebration Room we hear God’s word and message. We hear the word of the Lord and discuss the evening’s symbol as it relates to our lives. The leader catechist then delivers the message of the evening to us, which makes the focus of the session meaningful in our present lives. Then we join hands, sing, and move to music of thanksgiving.
The next stage is our Agape, or feast. In fellowship with one another we sit together, sharing conversation and a variety of foods. Finally, we gather in our last circle to sing our good-bye song or say a group prayer until our next time together.
Perhaps you know of a child or adult who would benefit from participation in a SPRED group, or discover for yourself the precious gift of SPRED, as we look for others to join in this ministry.
As a parent of a child with special needs, there are also opportunities to view a SPRED session at the SPRED Training and Observation Center near downtown Chicago.
Regular SPRED family masses are held at the SPRED Center in Bridgeport, phone 312.842.1039 or visit www.spred.org.