SPRED stands for SPecial REligeous Development. It was developed in America over 50 years ago by Fr James McCarthy, Sr Suzanne Gallagher and Sr Mary Therese Harrington. The SPRED method is practised in Diocese all over the world. SPRED has been active in Motherwell Diocese for 26 years, we celebrated our 25th anniversary on 10 May 2015.
The goal of SPRED is to fully integrate our friends with learning difficulties into their own parish communities and for them to realise that God and his love are with us at all times. He rejoices with us when we are happy, he consoles us when we are sad.
It is important to realise that SPRED is not a social group (although we love a good party!). We are a spiritual group. Each session is filled with quiet and peace – “God speaks in the silence” and we want to hear God’s message for us.
Each session is split into three parts:
Preparation – We all sit quietly for around 40 minutes with an activity, be it art, puzzles or sensory. There is no pressure finish a picture or puzzle. The aim is to relax and empty our minds and hearts of the stress and pressures of the day, to leave room for God’s message to be fully absorbed and understood.
Celebration room – We sit in a semi-circle around a lit candle, fresh flowers and the word of God. The group leader uses an object to evoke a life story or experience from each person. (e.g. a party invitation would invoke stories of a joyful celebration with family and friends). After sharing, the leader will draw all the stories together to tell us that God is our friend, and we can always rely on his love and friendship. A very small passage from scripture is read, 2 or three lines, then each person is given a message by the leader, i.e. Jesus says to you tonight, I am your friend, live in my love”. We sing a SPRED hymn then take a quiet minute to absorb what we have experienced.
Aape – Cup of tea and a blether! We all have a job in setting the table and we eat, drink and share our news. Each meeting finishes off with the singing of Shalom – “til we meet again, Shalom”.
Groups meet once a fortnight and on the weeks in between, the helpers meet to prepare for the following week. There are only 12 meeting per year plus a small group mass and a reconciliation service. We meet in term time.
There are four groups that meet in the SPRED rooms in Cleland, and one group that meets in our church hall here in St Augustines. St Augustine’s group is lead beautifully by Annemarie Toland and she is supported by 4 wonderful helpers (cathechists). If you would like to join the group, or know of anyone with learning difficulties who may benefit, please contact Lorraine Cunningham (Director of SPRED Motherwell) on 07891 297716, or e mail Lorraine@spredmotherwell.org.uk. Lorraine will then liaise with the St Augustine’s SPRED team.