SPecial Religious Education Development

SPRED began in 1960 when Fr. James McCarthy became the Associate Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Many parents had been inquiring about a program that would help their challenged children. So, with the help of Sr. Mary Therese Harrington SH, Fr. Jean Mesny, a priest from Lyon, France and Fr. Eucharist Paulhus from Quebec, Canada, SPRED was created and became an official Agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1966.

A SPRED model center was developed at 29th & Lowe in Chicago to train perspective catechists in the Method Vivre. The Method consists of a dynamic process of catechesis leading one to develop a sense of the sacred, a sense of the Church, a sense of the Christ and a sense of God. The process used helps each to enter into communion with Christ within the community of faith. The goal is to penetrate the Mystery in faith in such a way that a living mentality grows.

As of 2014, there currently 800 persons with disabilities served all over the Archdiocese of Chicago in 160 SPRED Centers and growing. To date there are 20 new parishes preparing to Open Centers.

Presently, the respective SPRED Centers house one of the four age groups which meet in different locations of the Archdiocese. They cover friends in the following age groups: Six to Ten; Eleven to Sixteen; Seventeen to Twenty One; and Twenty-two and older.

Each parish is responsible for raising funds to keep their Centers operating. Our main funds come from the Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive, followed by a Chocolate Fundraiser; Women’s Club and any donations we may receive from private individuals. We are most grateful for their support.

There are SPRED Agencies in Canada, France, Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa, as well as all over the United States spreading the Word of God.

SPRED shares the faith with God’s special people – the developmentally and intellectually challenged. It is a Ministry that serves the needs of our “special” friends by helping them grow in their awareness of God. Our goal is to prepare these individuals to participate in the liturgical life of the parish and to help them towards the goal of receiving their sacraments.

At St. Fabian Parish we service two groups, ages 22 and over. Our planning sessions consist of bi-weekly meetings with volunteered SPRED catechists, who discuss lesson plans for the following week. On the alternating week, during our session with our young adults, we begin with lnteriorization, which consists of recreation painting or some other simple craft to reach inside themselves to focus on entering the Holy Room.

It is in the Holy Room where the Holy Spirit comes to us in many ways. Each time, we have a message to give our friends that incorporates each one of them in their own way. It is there that their inner faith is nurtured.

Afterward we celebrate “Agape” where stories and food are shared. When our friends are picked up by their families, we truly realize that God’s love in the form of the Holy Spirit has truly blessed us.

Throughout the year we celebrate special things with our friends and their families. Such as Advent/Christmas; Reconciliation/Easter; Mass of Thanksgiving; and our annual Summer Bowling Party.