Welcome to SPRED at St. Albert the Great Parish
SPRED (Special Religious Development) is a program, created in the Archdiocese
of Chicago, which trains and guides parishes to provide faith formation to
persons with developmental disabilities and/or learning problems and become
integrated into parish life. This is accomplished through small communities of
faith at the parish level.
This website was created to provide information to those interested in offering
spiritual enrichment to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The SPRED program at St. Albert the Great offers the opportunity to grow in faith to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in three small faith communities.
The SPRED Resource Satellite housed at St. Albert the Great Angels is a satellite of the Archdiocesan SPRED Center (see below) and supports the quality and development of SPRED programs in Vicariate V in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Please feel free to explore by clicking here SPRED Resource Satellite or use the navigation menu above.
What is SPRED?
SPRED or Special Religious Development is a program for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities begun in the Archdiocese of Chicago in the early 1960’s. SPRED founder and director, Fr. James McCarthy was driven to find a way to enrich the life of those living with developmental disabilities by stirring an awareness of GOD in the midst of ordinary moments of their everyday life and bringing forth an awareness of themselves as persons of dignity who are loved by GOD. Sr. Mary Therese Harrington and Sr. Susanne Gallagher joined Fr. McCarthy in researching methods of catechesis and education and discovered the Method Vivre, a research project defining how persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities could grow in faith. SPRED is the practical application of the Method Vivre. Since its inception, SPRED has continued to evolve and grow through the direction and oversight of the founding SPRED staff.
Today in the Archdiocese of Chicago and beyond, the SPRED Agency sets up a contractual arrangement with a parish or another diocese. The SPRED Agency provides training, supervision and materials in the form of a syllabus of sessions. The parish sets up a program for a given age group in accordance with SPRED standards. Each SPRED center has a team made up of volunteers: a chairperson, leader catechist, activity catechist and helper catechists (sponsors). Each helper catechist becomes a partner in faith for a child or adult with developmental disabilities. SPRED small communities of faith are comprised of up to 14 persons: 8 catechists and 6 friends. This ensures a personal experience for all. A welcoming space, the bonds of friendship, the proclamation of the WORD and inclusion in the sacramental life of the parish are essential for growth in faith.
SPRED forms small communities of faith in parishes to welcome persons with developmental disabilities in order to foster participation in parish assemblies of worship.
SPRED began in 1960 when Fr. James McCarthy from the Archdiocese of Chicago began to work with parents, special educators and catechist volunteers. In 1967 SPRED was established as an agency of the Archdiocese. It is now part of the Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Worship.
SPRED serves the residents of group homes and state facilities within the Archdiocese of Chicago through collaboration with twenty-one agencies that each has multiple housing sites.
Parish based SPRED centers serve children, adolescents and adults who have developmental disabilities in the Archdiocese. SPRED catechists complete thirty hours of training. Presently there are 850 active catechists working in 136 SPRED Centers in the Archdiocese of Chicago. One catechist sponsor is available for each person with special needs plus a leadership team. 670 persons with developmental disabilities are served.
SPRED also resources 22 dioceses in eight countries.
Our SPRED program is always open to volunteers. If you are interested in becoming part of this ministry, please contact Ray Chodorowski & Jan Szewczyk for more information.
To learn more about SPRED, visit the Archdiocese of Chicago website at www.spred.org