Members of the SPRED community lead the offertory gestures during the Sept. 29 Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. The song: "To You, O God, I Lift Up My Soul."
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Bishop Barber welcomes SPRED to 'your house'
On the Feast of St. Michael, with more than 200 friends, their family members and catechists in the pews, the SPRED community began its year at the noon Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
SPRED — the Special Religious Education Department — is a parish-based program in which people with intellectual disabilities, ranging from age 6 to adults, meet by age group. Each participant, called a friend, has a catechist.
For catechist Sandy Pimperton, spending time with her friend Dan at the cathedral was special. They carried a sunflower in the procession.
With SPRED literally spread out among more than a dozen parishes, it's rare to have so many SPRED participants in one place. "We don't get the opportunity to get together often," Pimperton said. "We see old friends, and make new ones."
Noting that he was accompanied by his brother Father Stephen Barber, SJ, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, said, "you get two Barbers for the price of one."
"This is your house," he said. "This is the house of God. He has all these seats reserved for you. Come back anytime."
While the parish Mass was the same, SPRED led offertory song, using gestures to illustrate the song.
Members of the SPED community approached the altar joyfully at Communion. "When you see them at the Eucharist," Pimperton said later, "it breaks your heart, in the best possible way."
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