SPRED: Special Religious Education
All of us have a story to share in our lives with God. Most of us have the opportunity to do this within a community of faith. However, there are a few who need friends to help them articulate their story and to walk with them on their journey of faith. SPRED provides that opportunity for people who have developmentally disabilities or intellectual challenges.
What is SPRED?
SPRED (Special Religious Development) is a program in which persons with developmental challenges (Special Friends), ages 6-22+, come together with a spiritual friend/catechist (21 years and older). They share a one-on-one relationship and participate together in forming a small faith community. SPRED fosters and nourishes spiritual and personal growth by helping our Special Friends discover God’s action and presence in their lives. SPRED enables these special
parishioners an opportunity for celebration and worshi0p and prepares them for the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation. Special liturgies during the course of the year are also celebrated as a community.
SPRED history extends over a period of 50 years; it originated in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Today, SPRED is national and international in scope. SPRED was established in Charlotte, North Carolina over 10 years ago with the approval of the Diocese of Charlotte. The SPRED Program is committed to following and implementing the statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States in their 1978 pastoral statement on persons with disabilities (revised in 1989).
“Jesus reveled by actions that service to and with people in need is a privilege and an opportunity as well as a duty...Recognizing that persons with disabilities have a claim to our respect because they are persons, because they share in the one redemption of Christ, and because they contribute to our society by their activity within it, the Church must become an advocate for and with them...in touching the lives of disabled men, women and children in this way, we come closest to imitating Jesus’ own example which should always be before our eyes (Luke 4:17-19, 21).”
A SPRED session is an event that happens at a definite time and place. Prior to meeting with their Special Friends, the Catechists make a commitment to meet and prepare for the Full Session and deepen their own faith lives. The Catechists and their Special Friends meet for 2 hours 12 times a year from September to May.
To obtain more information about the Special Religious Development Program (SPRED), visit SPRED Headquarters in Chicago; website at www.spred-chicago.org.
To learn more about volunteering or enrolling a student with special needs in our SPRED program, please contact Kelli Olszewski, Pastoral Associate, St. James the Greater Catholic Church, at 704-720-0600 x22 or email@example.com.
“By reason of their baptism, all Catholics are equal in dignity in the sight of God, and have the same divine calling.” (U.S. Bishop’s, Guidelines for Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities)