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SPRED Partners is grateful to have received a grant from The Catholic Community Foundation to help promote the growth of SPRED in urban parishes in 2017.


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The SPRED Roles

At the core of SPRED are the rich experiences and relationships that form between volunteer catechists and the developmentally disabled friends during small faith community sessions.  Each small faith community includes up to eight volunteer catechists from the parish and up to six friends. Three of the volunteer catechists take additional training to fill leadership roles.

Anyone who is twenty-one years or older and is willing to share faith and friendship with others from the parish, can volunteer as a SPRED catechist. No prior experience with persons with disabilities is needed and the training is provided. When training is completed, volunteer catechists meet for twenty-four sessions a year, twelve of which include the friends with disabilities. Each session lasts about three hours.


The SPRED Friend

A person with developmental disabilities or learning challenges, such as autism, cognitive delays, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, aspergers syndrome, or someone not benefiting from traditional religious education, develops and flourishes in his or her faith through a special friendship with one helper catechist during small faith community sessions (6-10 years, 11-16 years, 17-21 years, 22+) and family masses.

If you know of any children or adults with special needs who would like to be part of a SPRED program, please fill out our contact form.


The Helper/Mentor Catechist

Develops a special friendship with one developmentally disabled person in the community.

Models an attitude of welcome, a desire to listen, confidence in the process and a sense of joy.

Enters into the sharing of personal stories and participation in sacred gestures to song with the whole group.

Assists his/her special friend in articulating his/her life experiences during catechesis.  Invites friend personally to each session.


The Parish Chairperson (Leadership Role)

Secures an appropriate space for the community to gather for catechesis.

Identifies members of parish with developmental disabilities and finds an age appropriate group for each person.

Informs neighboring parishes about SPRED.

Communicates with the pastor and other church leaders, and with parents and family members and other care givers; updates sacramental records and other data.

Encourages catechists to participate in training courses, observation, and SPRED family liturgies.

Collaborates with other parish chairpersons.

Participates as a helper catechist in the SPRED community.


The Leader Catechist (Leadership Role)

Leads catechist preparation sessions.

Leads the total community sessions.

Prepares the environment of the celebration room.

Collaborates with parish leaders about SPRED masses and prepares for the liturgy.


The Activity Catechist (Leadership Role)

Prepares the environment of the meeting room.

Greets and assists friends in choosing activities.

Guides the total community during the time of preparation.

Leads the silence activity.

Coordinates the preparation and sharing of food.

Guides the clean-up process for each session.



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