Chairpersons from the 150+ SPRED communities in the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered enthusiastically to share delights from the past SPRED season and re-fuel for the next. The warm fuzzies that were exchanged lit our fires and reminded us of the gift that graces each of our lives. Our hosts provided scrumptious treats as we savored the friendships and the vision that binds us together.
We were then ready to look at the present and contemplate strategies to attend to both the current and future needs of our SPRED friends. Waiting lists point out the need for more SPRED communities. Friends who have reached a point of transition were also identified triggering a discussion at each meeting. Who goes on the waiting list? ... the Friend who is no longer comfortable in a younger group? or the Friend who has not yet been in the program? How does the syllabus honor the chronological age of the Friend? Can a child with a disability sense the need to move on? What are some of the signs of disconnection? When is it necessary for a group to change from one age group to another? And ... what does the change entail regarding environment; choice of activities and change of the mindset of the catechists ... to be able to recognize that the person is no longer a child, but instead an adult with adult needs. How does changing an age group affect other parishes and SPRED communities. Whew! Many thoughts and concerns were shared ... definitely just scratched the surface ... not enough time to address at the planning meeting. I wonder, would this be a good topic for a SPRED seminar/workshop?? Your thoughts are appreciated.
We sorted out what we could and flirted with the possibilities for summer animation. Ugh! not and easy thought when one is in a vacation mode. But, thankfully, some stalwart chairperson agreed to meet the challenge and extend and invitation to a neighboring parish to join the SPRED phenomenon. To do this effectively, one needs passion. We find this in the heart and spirit of our own SPRED community of faith. Those who have tasted the bliss of the SPRED experience are more apt to go to others. When one sees a good movie or indulges in a heavenly faire at a new restaurant, there is a natural urge to share the joy of our find. SPRED works the same.
But there are also animation skills and techniques that have been discovered over the years to be helpful to know. A series of SPRED workshops have been initiated to provide the ambitious and passionate with a place to share and discover ... a think tank on the art of animation. The next in the series will be hosted by the catechists of St. Edna Parish on Saturday, June 21st from 10:00am to 12:30pm in Hurley Center, Room D. All are welcome! Animation is the work of everyone who has been warmed by our Friends and rattled to the core by this marvelous ministry.
OH! ... wonderful ideas were also share regarding summer outi and creative ideas for playful interaction with our Friends as the sunshine and warmer weather finally calls us to fun.
A moment ago I sent an article to our parish secretary for our Sunday Bulletin. I made a soulful plea to our parishioners to attend the Dinner Dance on Sunday, April 27th to support SPRED. I encouraged people to fill a table of 10 and enjoy a night out, buy some raffle tickets, sponsor one of our Friends or simply send us a donation
I wonder how many SPRED catechists, families, priests or parishioners really understand why SPRED needs fundraisers. How vital this is to the overall program. The reality is that SPRED cannot exist without it. The financial support from the Archdiocese simply does not cover the costs of SPRED, the place and SPRED the program. How can a Resource Center which offers a place for worship, a model observation/training site with regional centers in the field function without funds? There are ongoing electric bills, phone bills, heating costs and building repairs. How can SPRED, the program, being the hub of an international ministry provide a syllabus, a home for five SPRED communities, training and enrichment opportunities, a monthly newsletter, a model of inclusive liturgy and ongoing mentoring without reliable funding? There are printing costs, mailing expenses and computers costs - to mention a few. How about salaries? Beyond the bricks and mortar, we have dedicated people - 3 staff members to manage the primary resource center, 2 field workers, a secretary/data clerk, a maintenance person and a translator. Only 3 full time salaries are covered in our existing budget from the Archdiocese. The remaining are promised through the fundraising efforts of Mamre, Inc..
So ... what must be done?
Recognize that funding is a real need right now in assuring the future growth and management of SPRED. Please support the Dinner Dance in any way you can. If you and your group cannot attend, buy or sell raffle tickets, make a donation and encourage your families and others to do so or to attend the dinner dance themselves.
Going forward let’s put our heads together and come up with some sustainable means of ensuring the future of SPRED. In my heart, I know that we can stir fresh ideas making it possible to bolster up or even move beyond dinner dances and appeal letters to bring more creative solutions to this vital need. I welcome your thoughts. More to come...
31 stalwart people confronted the elements to gather for our annual Reflection Weekend at the beautiful St. Benedict Abbey. In the midst of a challenging snowstorm which provided a breathtaking landscape, participants entered into the mystery of JOY and authored some creative masterpieces. I am continually amazed that someone of three months SPRED experience can write a beautiful SPRED session and that someone of twenty plus years experience can still be delighted and, at times, challenged by the process.
We rested and reflected; we prayed and we played; we chatted and feasted; we laughed and we cried. The celebration of Mass with Father Joe Curtis captured out hearts and our souls as everyone collaborated to share their gifts. This weekend experience is waiting for and beckoning to all of you who give yourselves so graciously to this marvelous ministry. Every year I see new faces and will be anticipating even more as we gather next January for this mountaintop experience.
Sister Mary Therese, Father Jim and Sr. Sue - thank you for conceiving of this wonderful format to enrich the lives of so many SPRED catechists - some who have embraced this opportunity for more than 40 years. Kathy, Mary, Betty, Teresa, Katie and Bob make the weekend a gift, a real delight and a gift of the heart. Kelly and Kelly provide wonderful hospitality for our evening of partying. What an experience of JOY!
Fresh from this energizing weekend, I continue to offer opportunities for enrichment throughout the year and am looking for your input. What do you hunger for? What are your concerns? What is it you want to toss around and look at more deeply? What will draw you to these meetings of minds and exchanges of wisdom? I would like to hear from you. Name some topics. What will enrich your SPRED experience? I will be happy to respond with more opportunities for you, bouncing from Queen of Angels for the convenience of those in the city to St. Francis de Sales for those in the countryside of Vicariate I. Summer months are also a great time for renewal. Bring it on!
Welcome to my first blog attempt to bring SPRED development and program growth to the 21st
Century. We have arrived albeit a bit behind the rest of the world but we are here nonetheless.
Heading off on this voyage, it is my hope to share some insights, anecdotes and latest information relating to SPRED. Catechists, I look to you for feedback to steer me toward topics of interest that will inspire all of us. I still have much to learn in this blogging process but hope that this can be an effective and timely way of addressing topics that hit close to home.
So off we go! I have a couple of thoughts I'd like to share with you.
May is here. Where did this year go? For most of us, the SPRED season is drawing to a close. This month Parish Chairpersons will be gathering at their annual spring planning meetings to do their very important work of connecting with one another. These evenings ensure the stability of present groups and provide the foundation for new groups. May is Support your Parish Chairperson Month!
Many groups are closing their year with beautiful masses to celebrate their spirit of communion. Friends are looking forward to summer events with you. What a happy time it is for our friends just grabbing some delicious ice cream together or sitting in the park enjoying music, nature and your company. These activities become the happy experiences that are later shared in the Celebration Room. I salute all of you who happily engage your friends in summer activities.
By now many of you know about the exceptional recognition of our Founding SPRED Staff being selected to receive the 2013 Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University. They are in prestigious company. This is such an important honor to bestow on our very deserving founders for their dedication these past 50 years to our special Friends.
Gathering the wisdom of theologians, educators and various professionals, the SPRED Staff created something monumental: a program that serves and enriches everyone who participates in it.
From its humble beginning, the stories of parents, the generosity and dedication of volunteers, and personal interaction with our Friends has shaped an understanding of how one can grow in an awareness of God and has fueled the SPRED Staff's dedication to this ministry. Fr. Jim, Sr. Mary Therese and Sr. Sue continue to shape this wonderful experience for all of us and mentor new volunteers helping SPRED to grow. We who share in this life giving endeavor are lifted up by this recognition given to the SPRED staff. It is long overdue.
The Laetare Medal is being awarded at Notre Dame's Commencement in South Bend on May 19th. I plan on being there. When the people and work I have so proudly been connected with for these 35 years are being honored, I have to be there. There is a youtube video of the award being given. Check it out.
To read more on the Laetare Medal, click here: http://news.nd.edu/news/38187-laetare/
Working as a SPRED Community Religious Worker for over 35 years, this blog was created to share the Good News in the life of a parish SPRED program.