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History of SPRED

History of SPRED

SPRED Begins in Chicago in 1966 as a Ministry to Serve the Intellectually Disabled

In 1966, SPRED was established as an agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It is the work of Fr. James McCarthy, Sr. Mary Therese Harrington, SH and Sr. Susanne Gallagher, SP. The goal is to inspire each parish to welcome persons with developmental disabilities into a SPRED group where they would become prepared to participate in the liturgical life of their parish. The method of symbolic catechesis (Method Vivre) is in use in SPRED groups nationally and worldwide.

SPRED’s Humble Beginnings in the Diocese of Oakland

Sr. Aurora Pérez, SHF, brought SPRED to the Oakland Diocese in 1980, after receiving her Master’s Degree from Loyola University and training at SPRED Chicago for a year. Under Bishop John Cummins and subsequent bishops of Oakland, Sr. Aurora worked tirelessly opening SPRED Centers in a Diocese with 81 parishes – Amazing! Working for over 37 years for the Diocese, Sr. Aurora retired in 2013, after full time & consulting work to enjoy the fruits of her incredible work.


In 2013, the Diocese hired a new SPRED Coordinator out of its own ranks: Michelle Martinez-Kilty. She has been a SPRED Community Religious Worker who continues the mission of integrating individuals with developmental disabilities into the life and faith of the Church. Today SPRED has 29 Centers in 18 parishes with an additional 2 Centers in development.

SPRED Terminology

Friend- A person with a developmental disability and participant in SPRED.

Helper Catechist- An adult who wishes to share his/her faith in a small faith group comprised of other Helper Catechists and Friends.

SPRED Parish Center- Small faith sharing group comprised of Friends and Catechists. They are located in different parishes throughout the Diocese. Centers are usually no bigger than 16 Catechists and Friends.

Method Vivre- A type of symbolic catechesis method used by SPRED to help Friends and Catechists grow in their faith.

Age Groups- SPRED divides the Centers by age. There are four different age groups- 6-10, 11-16, 17-21 and 22 and older.