A short history of SPRED
In the 1960s three priests in Europe struggled with the question of HOW to do Religious Education with people who had a learning disability. Realizing that a rational, logical and wordy method was totally inappropriate, they developed an intuitive approach, paying much more attention to the environment and the sense of the sacred within the context of community. They wrote down their “lessons” in books called the Method Vivre.
This written text was discovered by members of the Religious Education Staff (Special Needs) in the Archdiocese of Chicago. They translated the books into English and spent two years studying and researching the Method under the guidance of the priests from Europe. The result was SPRED.
To St. Catherine’s
St. Catherine’s has had a SPRED center for over 20 years. It is one of seven SPRED centers in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. The goal of SPRED is to assist the parish in integrating persons with developmental or learning disabilities into the parish worship through the process of education in faith. This is done over 24 weeks each year. There are 12 sessions of 2 meetings each per year with a small group of catechists working one on one with Special Friends who are those with developmental or learning disabilities.
During these sessions symbolic catechesis appropriate to the age, mentality and faith of the group is used. Sessions normally begin in mid-September and last until mid-April. The first meeting of each session has the catechists only where they go over and plan for the second one. The second meeting has the entire community at it. Each meeting lasts approximately 2 hours. The St. Catherine’s SPRED center presently works with 7 special friends on Tuesday evenings and a group from St. Thomas More parish meets in our center on Monday evenings.