SPRED (Special Religious Development) is a small Catholic faith community in a parish which includes children or adults with special needs. SPRED integrates people with developmental disabilities more fully into the mainstream of parish life: it offers faith formation, gives parishioners an inviting place and opportunity to connect with persons with disabilities, and offers ways to more fully include persons with disabilities into the liturgy. The SPRED method creates an awareness of God while giving our SPRED friends a sense that they are loved by God and are persons of honor and dignity. Our SPRED friends learn to know God.
Up to 8 volunteers from the parish agree to take SPRED training to learn how to offer appropriate religious education for children or adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Three of these volunteers agree to take additional training as team leaders. These volunteers form a small community of faith-people who enter into friendship and agree to welcome up to 6 friends with IDD. The volunteers decide on an age group depending on the greatest need of the community: children 6-10; youth 11-16; young adults 17-21; or adults 22+. The group agrees to follow the standards of the SPRED agency.
We begin with a Welcome.
Each one is greeted; an invitation is given to enter our space as gentle music plays in the background.
Handshakes and friendly smiles await us.
Activities to capture our attention surround us.
We are invited to select one and succumb to a creative work that slows us down, focuses us and readies us to be open to the Word of God.
We move to our circle where we recall a lived experience that we feel even now. We listen as others share their experience.
In sharing our stories, we become aware of something we have in common which unites us.
God is with us.
Then are we reminded of a particular experience shared at Mass that evokes a similar feeling.
Jesus is with us.
A brief scripture passage is proclaimed.
Our hands are held by our Leader Catechist as a message is given to us.
The Spirit is at work in us.
We use our hands and voices in song to offer our gratitude and praise.
We celebrate our joy in being together.